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State Family and Consumer Sciences Teacher of the Year Derrick Fogg, right, teaches his Warren County High School students that good communications skills are important for any job in the food industry. Above, he assists TaQuisha Durham in his Foods I class with a report.

If you have attended community events in Warren and Vance counties in recent years, there is a good chance that you have sampled culinary creations prepared by the students of Warren County High School Family and Consumer Sciences teacher Derrick Fogg.

Now in his eighth year at the local high school, Fogg has been named the N.C. Association of Family and Consumer Sciences Teacher of the Year, making him eligible to compete for the national Teacher of the Year award.

The association, which consists of educators and other professionals working in the family and consumer sciences fields, presents its Teacher of the Year award to educators who use innovative means and activities to encourage participation in and increase community awareness about family and consumer sciences education.

Fogg, the son of Marshall and Tillie Fogg of the Snow Hill community near Warrenton, credits his Family and Consumer Sciences education at WCHS with influencing his decision to work in the field.

He recalled that, in his high school days, students could choose to take courses to prepare them for careers in computer programming or as chefs. After considering that, because everyone must eat, there would always be job openings in the food industry, Fogg decided to take chef’s classes. 

As he entered college, Fogg did not waver from his high school career decision, earning an associate degree in culinary arts and bachelor’s degree in food service from Johnson and Wales. He also holds a master’s degree in human resource management from Webster University.

Fogg worked as a food service manager at Benedict College in Columbia, S.C. for several years before returning to Warren County in 2006, when he became culinary arts teacher at his high school alma mater.

“I wanted to teach, but on the college level,” he said. “I never expected to be at a high school setting.”

Fogg has found that returning to teach in his home county has brought a unique perspective in his mentor relationship with his students.

“It has been a different experience because it’s home,” he said. “I can encourage my students that they can go and come back (to the county).”

Fogg’s culinary students begin with Foods I, an introductory course covering such topics as nutrition and basic meal preparation.

From there, students can move on to the Foods II/Enterprise class or ProStart course, which is designed to prepare students for work in the restaurant industry. These more advanced classes allow students to participate in the meal catering service for which Fogg’s students have become well known.

The young catering entrepreneurs must not only prepare food for events, but also work in other aspects of the business process, including planning menus based on a client’s budget.

Students in the advanced classes also have the opportunity to earn food safety certification.

Fogg said that his classes are designed to teach students “basic survival techniques” to prepare them for entry level positions in the food industry and to allow them to obtain part-time employment to help pay for college.

Before students move on to catering, Fogg recommends that they take the introductory Foods I class, where they learn basic food preparation, proper sanitation and hygiene, so they, as he describes it, “know their way around an industrial kitchen.”

Soon, the Foods I students will learn how to prepare foods typically served during the Easter/spring season. Fogg likes to include dishes from other cultures to show how culture and religion influence food traditions, and how food brings people together.

“Food is a commonality among all of us, no matter the religion,” he said.

While sharing the joy and art of food preparation with young people has become a regular part of Fogg’s daily activities, his life was changed last month, when he was notified that he had been nominated for the Teacher of the Year Award, to be presented at the N.C. Association of Family and Consumer Sciences conference Feb. 21-13. 

The association also notified his parents about the nomination, so the three family members attended the conference together.  Then, the winner was announced.

“I was shocked when (the association) announced my name,” Fogg said. “It’s nice to know that you are appreciated and your hard work pays off.”

He now advances to competition for the National Teacher of the Year award, to be presented at the American Association of Family & Consumer Sciences conference in St. Louis, Mo., in June.      

With that conference still months away, Fogg doesn’t have time to worry about how he will place at the national level.  There is so much to teach and cook with his students here in Warren County.