Costa Academy was created after Geof Lambert and co-founder, Michael Kalathas, were approached by the senior administrators of their local school district who were looking to innovate education and find new ways to teach students. The district was facing short- and long-term challenges and needed creative solutions. Among the challenges were the increasing enrollment of non-college-bound students coupled with being at physical capacity in its technical training schools. To compound the issue, the district’s state funding was in jeopardy of being cut due to the state’s struggles to balance its budget and the taxpayer base being unwilling to raise annual property taxes to support growth and development within the district.
To address these challenges, Lambert went to work developing a hybrid model of cooperative education which integrates, at its core, a solid public/private sector relationship. This new model is a win, win, win. The district wins by being able to expand and innovate without taking a significant amount of resources from its operating budget. The private sector and the community wins by increasing its pool of skilled workers. Finally, and most importantly, the students win by being a part of an exciting and engaging new way to learn.
Center to the Costa Academy learning experience are two elements. The first crucial element is exposure to the community by regularly scheduled Costa Academy Family Meals which includes meeting and greeting with local business and professional leaders. The second element of the experience is student-focused with regularly scheduled Costa Academy Field Trips that give students of the academy exposure and insights into many businesses and locations they probably would not ordinarily be exposed to in a regular school setting.
Costa Academy is housed in a fully functioning restaurant and banquet hall, The Orchards, located in South Central, Pennsylvania. In addition to the Costa Academy Family Meals and Costa Academy Field Trips, the academy trains students using multimedia experiences and traditional classrooms and, most importantly, by direct hands-on work experience inside a real restaurant setting. The curriculum is extremely focused on foodservice and food wellness with learning fostered in a way that best fits the abilities, goals and objectives of the individual student. The academy enrolls students within the Chambersburg Area School District. Graduates are work-ready and employable from day one of certification by Costa Academy.
It is Lambert’s hope and vision that this same model designed for Costa Academy will transfer over to other industries in the community and will, collectively, be able to train and educate more than 100 high school age students per year on a full-time basis and many thousands of elementary age children through day trip experiences to various academies as they develop and grow.
Anybody wishing to learn more about the non-profit Costa Academy and/or support its effort through contributions or participation can visit www.facebook.com/CostaAcademy, or contact Lambert directly at 916.225.6769.