Program Preps Students for Hospitality Careers

Program Preps Students for Hospitality Careers
Posted on 02/13/2019
The Hospitality and Tourism program at Forest Hill Community High School was established in 2004. The program is a college preparatory curriculum that integrates unique high school courses with practical internships and business leadership training.

Students participate in project-based learning, field trips, and job shadowing within the various segments of the hospitality industry. Students learn about cultures and global destinations while exploring high-level career opportunities in the hotel and resort industry.

Group of students from Hospitality and Tourism program at Forest Hill HS standing outside

A valuable resource for the program is a school advisory board developed to provide guidance and support. Members of the board include the Senior Vice President of The Breakers, the General Manager of the Singer Island Marriott, the Assistant Director of Marketing at Duffy's restaurants, professors from Florida Atlantic University’s Hospitality program, and other key professionals in the industry.

The school adheres to the Florida Department of Education (FDOE) Career Clusters for Hospitality Management, and students in the program follow a comprehensive curriculum plan. As freshmen, they learn Hospitality, followed by Technology for Travel and Tourism in the 10th grade. Eleventh graders complete Marketing Management for Travel and Tourism, and as seniors, they study Entrepreneurship for Travel and Tourism and/or AICE Travel and Tourism.

Students in the program also earn 150 hours of internship job experience during the summer between their junior and senior year. Class instruction is combined with hands-on experience that includes job shadowing for juniors, field trips to area hotels, and college visits. Key industry members regularly visit the school as guest speakers, bringing their knowledge and passion to motivate students to join the growing industry.

The success of the program is evident through the number of graduates who go on to attend prestigious schools of hospitality including the University of Alabama, Virginia Tech, Florida International University, and the University of Central Florida. In many cases, student internships turn into jobs after graduation.

“The hospitality and tourism program exposes students to one of the biggest industries in Florida,” said Diana Sardina, who has been teaching in the program since its inception.

Sardina was awarded the Pineapple Teacher of the Year Award for the state of Florida in 2013, and has also been a Dwyer Award finalist. She holds a bachelor's degree in Business Management and a master’s in Hotel Management, giving her a deep understanding of the industry and the training needed to succeed.

“At the very least, students walk away with a deep understanding of such an important industry, and many students go on to work in hospitality, from summer jobs to permanent careers,” she said.

A new addition to the teaching staff is Ian Henry, an instructor who brings experience as a business professor with a specialization in technology. Forest Hill High is the only school in Palm Beach County that competes at the state's Hospitality and Tourism Management Program (HTMP). The students have won first place on two separate occasions since they began competing.

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