District Pair Earn Staff Spotlight
Each month, Lakewood City Schools selects a staff member or two to be honored as that month's Staff Spotlight honoree as nominated by their peers. This month, the winners were West Shore Career-Tech culinary instructor Rob McGorray and District computer specialist Dan Smigelski. Here are their stories:
West Shore Career-Tech’s senior culinary instructor Rob McGorray is not one to settle for the status quo. Whether he’s expanding the reach of the Culinary Arts program along with co-chef Devan Corti or offering little morale-boosting gestures to the LHS community, he’s always looking for a new angle. The enthusiasm he shares as an educator is one of the reasons Rob has been named one of our November Staff Spotlight honorees.
Says Rob’s nominator, teacher Gray Cooper: “Chef Rob is a passionate, dedicated, and enthusiastic educator. His commitment to his students and LHS is impressive. He embraces change and is constantly thinking of new ways to challenge, help, and teach students.“
If you are a follower of Chef Rob’s Twitter account, you know he does all this with humor and a twinkle in his eye. “I like to show people how learning can be fun,” he says.
Since Chef Rob took over the reins of the culinary program in 2008, he has overseen the transition to the newly renovated west wing in 2009 and the opening of the Ranger Café. Together with Chef Corti, he has added services such as Grab N Go at the café, improved its service and food quality, and has expanded competition opportunities for students. The students also have more bake sales to raise money and outside events to practice catering skills.
Chef Rob, who is known for his awesome pastries, owned a bakery before he got into teaching. He started with a part-time teaching position at Tri-C, where he earned his associate’s degree in Culinary Arts & Hospital Management, and he realized how rewarding teaching can be. “I found out I have more fun helping people rather than serving them.”
Beyond the classroom, Chef Rob is known for his little touches that boost the morale of staff, such as providing coffee in the morning or sending delicious food samples to a classroom.
“The LHS staff benefits daily from Rob’s positive attitude and can-do mindset,” said Gray Cooper. “We are lucky to have him.”
As everyone knows, when technology fails, frustration follows. That’s why Computer Technician Dan Smigelski is a welcome sight across the District, and particularly at his home base of Garfield Middle School. His calm demeanor and technical proficiency help teachers out of tech jams without the classroom missing a beat. It’s why three of his colleagues nominated Dan to be one of our November Staff Spotlight honorees.
Dan joined the District 10 years ago after spending years in the private sector fixing typewriters and computers. He is proud to work in the District from which his wife, Vicki, and daughters, Lauren and Paige, graduated.
Dan’s three nominators – Tricia Duhr, Shannon Hopkins and Amber Rykaceski - are on the BRIDGES team at Garfield. They praise Dan for being “an integral part to our day.” BRIDGES students rely on visuals projected onto the classroom’s smartboard to learn and whenever any tech issues pop up, “Dan is always friendly and quick to fix the issue…without disrupting the students, staff and everyday flow of the day.”
Besides putting out tech fires, Dan and the rest of the I.T. team are responsible for the general maintenance of classroom technology, installing new tech systems, setting up technology for large events and maintaining the District’s security system.
His approach to his work is simple: Get it fixed as quickly as possible. “I try to be customer service oriented,” Dan says, “I want to make people happy when I leave” because the job has been done successfully.
Garfield Principal Mark Walter sees Dan as an important asset to the school: “He is always willing to help to make sure teachers can teach and students learn. His calm and unassuming manner masks his strong drive to make sure we have all the tools to help students achieve.”