Innovation, collaboration at the heart of Pathways classes’ food truck venture
Burnsville High School business teacher Maggie Mayernik and culinary arts teacher Matt Deutsch’s passion for providing real-world experiences and engaging, hands-on learning for their students sparked the idea for a collaborative project between their classes.
The concept required students from both classes, Entrepreneurship and Foundations of Food, to form groups, collaborate and develop an idea for a food truck and its offerings, and then pitch those ideas in a “Shark Tank” (named after the popular television show) style presentation to a panel of judges, which included Sherma Wilczek and Jared Little from Wings Financial Credit Union and Reese Moore, family and consumer science teacher.
Mayernik’s students were responsible for creating a comprehensive business plan. Students engaged in market research that included identifying the target demographics and popular food trends. Deutsch’s students focused on developing a unique menu for their group’s food truck. They experimented with different recipes, honed their culinary skills and finalized a menu that was both desirable and marketable.
“One of the most powerful parts was prototyping dishes and making changes over several weeks. We don’t often get to do that,” said Deutsch.
Students from both classes learned a variety of workplace skills during the project, including communication, teamwork, resource management and organization. However, there were also some struggles along the way. Since students from each class formed a group, they quickly realized that working as a team and often communicating electronically instead of in person presented a number of challenges.
“Most students haven't been tasked with this kind of comprehensive group assignment,” said Mayernik. “It challenged them in ways other assignments haven’t. A question I got, for instance, was, ‘How can I make my partner do their job.’ Having that conversation with students about how to motivate and empower their teammates was so rewarding! It was a struggle for them, but I think that was the successful part of it, too. They struggled, they got through it and they learned.”
The semester-long project culminated with students pitching their ideas to the judges. As business students prepared and presented their ideas to the panel, culinary students cooked, served and presented their dishes.
“What I love about this Shark Tank pitch is seeing how our students grow,” said Mayernik. “They are full of nerves leading up to the competition. Then, to see the pride on their faces after they present … It's just awesome. It's why I love my job!”
This extraordinary, creative project enabled students to truly experience the power of Pathways, allowing them to explore their interests, pursue their passions and blaze their trail with confidence.