Chef Dwyer — Rookie Teacher of the Year

Chloe Dougherty, Staff Writer

After years of working for the Walt Disney Company as a restaurant manager, Chef Dwyer suddenly sought a different path in life to extend his passions. For three years now, Chef Dwyer has been a part of the Knight Nation Family as one of the Culinary Arts instructors. This year he has been honored the award for Rookie Teacher of the Year, and for good reason. After talking with Chef Dwyer and getting to know more about the reason he decided to teach, one is overwhelmed with admiration. Chef Dwyer exhibits the good that makes up the teaching staff at East Ridge High School.

When asked why he became a teacher, the Rookie Teacher explained that many of his friends, who also have experience in the field of culinary, turned him to teaching. Chef Dwyer said that after acquiring a degree in Culinary Arts, from Johnson and Wales University, he spent thirty years gaining knowledge and skills in that field. After so much time, he wanted a change in his life from training individuals at Disney, to passing along what he has learned to the next generation. Dwyer said that “teaching is a great vehicle for that,” and went on to detail why he first fell in love with cooking.

Chef Dwyer became interested in culinary because of his mom, and recalled the times he used to cook with her and realized that “food was a big part of (his) family growing up.” Throughout high school, he continued to utilize this interest and joined the CTE program for Culinary, that, ironically, he teaches at East Ridge. Although some of what is taught today is more advanced, Chef recounted that the foundation of the program is still familiar.

Apart from what is taught in the classroom, Chef Dwyer is also involved as the sponsor for the Prostart Culinary Competition Team at East Ridge and the coach for the Varsity Bowling Team at the school as well. East Ridge is proud to recognize this competition team for their great achievements, including placing first place at the most recent state competition. Chef Dwyer says he wanted to be involved in this program because he was not given the same competitive opportunity as a student. However, he understands the pathways and scholarships that are opened up to students because of their successes in competition. Chef Dwyer noted the incredible efforts of his team, not only did they place first, but they outshined private schools that receive much more funding. Much like becoming a culinary teacher, after learning the material in school, Chef Dwyer now coaches bowling after being the captain of his high school team.

Outside of school, Chef Dwyer says you can find him cheering on his children in any of their endeavors. He has a daughter and two sons that both graduated from East Ridge High School and lists being their fan as one of his hobbies. Chef Dwyer is certainly dedicated to his family and loves to spend time with his wife and children. Of course, the Chef lists cooking as one of his hobbies, but wanted to point out that he does so because it is important to show that he enjoys what he does. Chef Dwyer never dreads making dinner and believes this to be one of the reasons he enjoys his life.

After discussing much about what got him to be a teacher at East Ridge, Chef Dwyer was asked this one last question: “If students graduate after being in your class a full year what is the one piece of advice you hope they take with them?” Chef Dwyer very simply and quickly answered in two ways. The first being “Enjoy what you’re doing.” Chef explained that he had been fortunate in life to be given the passion to cook and to teach a class such as culinary, one that teaches a valuable life skill. Chef Dwyer is very grateful that his time at both Disney and East Ridge, has never felt like he’s gone to “work,” and hopes that all of his students can one day say the same thing. In order to do so, Chef Dwyer believes that each individual must pursue their dreams with vigor, much like he did.

His second piece of advice is much more oriented to culinary, but is important for many to understand. Chef Dwyer said with a laugh that he makes sure all of his students going into his field are prepared “to work when everyone else is playing.” In all seriousness, Chef Dwyer hopes that as a teacher, he is able to teach students professionalism and transferable, life skills. The Rookie Teacher of the Year, hopes to share his personal knowledge on how to be successful and, so far, nothing has made him more proud than hearing from past students that come back and say “man you were right.” East Ridge is lucky to have a teacher as knowledgeable, dedicated, and enthusiastic about teaching as Chef Dwyer.