PASSION for educating future generations in hospitality skills has earnt teacher Shaun Morris, of Unity College, Caloundra West, a Spirit of Catholic Education Award.
The former commercial chef received his award for initiating a program and/or activity in response to a need.
The awards recognise outstanding contributions by individuals within the Queensland Catholic education community and are presented each year during Catholic Education Week.
The hospitality teacher recognised a need for senior male students, who were disengaged or at risk of dropping out, to have a clear focus and practical outlet as part of their schooling.
As a qualified chef he initiated, developed and implemented the Barista Boys program.
The aim was to help the students develop high-level and real-life hospitality skills, giving them career direction, work placement and life skills.
Mr Morris said he was humbled but proud to represent the young college at the awards ceremony.
He said they introduced the program last year as an alternative pathway for students who may not want to go on and do a university degree.
“Here on the (Sunshine) Coast more than seventy per cent of teenagers, their first entry point into the work force will be within the hospitality industry and we can’t ignore that,” he said.
“So we created a course that would give our students an opportunity to go straight into a café environment and meet the needs of our local industries.”
The Barista Boys have a commercial operation at the college, making high-quality coffee for staff, and they cater for functions and college events such as athletics carnivals and parent nights.
Participants attain a Certificate 1 in Hospitality while completing their Year 12 other studies.
School attendance by these students has increased markedly, as has their total engagement in college life.
Barista Boy Lachie Meyer said all the students were delighted to learn their teacher had received the award.
“He really deserved the award,” Lachie said. “He’s a really good teacher. He’s always there to help whenever we need it.”
The Year 11 student said it was a real achievement for him to make the program as there were only a limited number of places each year.
“Mr Morris has shown great faith in me by giving me a place in the program,” he said. “I am extremely grateful as it has greatly enhanced my career prospects here on the Sunshine Coast. He also helped me get a part-time job in a local café which is a great starting point.”
Unity College principal Greg Myers, who nominated Mr Morris for the award, said his passion for young people, especially those at risk, made him a highly competent and effective innovative educator.
“Shaun’s passion for engaging with students at risk and his willingness to work with these students to overcome difficulties has been the real life-blood of the program’s overwhelming success,” he said.