Down Syndrome Association honors Dos Pueblos culinary arts teacher
When it comes to inclusion, Teri Ingram is a master chef.
Chef Ingram, who has taught culinary arts for 11 years at Dos Pueblos High School, started a Coffee Cart and the SpEd Café at the Goleta school, where students work on life skills identified in their Individual Education Plans. She also is involved with a camp every summer for kids with disabilities.
The Ojai resident’s dedication to education and inclusion got the attention of the Down Syndrome Association of Santa Barbara County, which named Chef Ingram the recipient of the Extraordinary Educator 2022 Award.
The award was announced Oct. 1 at the nonprofit’s 11th annual Hoedown at the Santa Barbara Carriage Museum. Chef Ingram wasn’t able to attend due to a recent surgery, but was praised at the museum. The award goes to recipients for their outstanding work with individuals with Down syndrome and others with special needs.
Chef Ingram told the News-Press it feels good to receive the award.
“I love my job, and I feel this is where I am supposed to be,” she said.
“I do a camp every summer for kids with disabilities,” Chef Ingram said. “I have a place near and dear in my heart for special needs. This is a skill where students can go out and have a job and keep a job. It’s really an honor to be able to help these kids do that.
“I think it (the award) means that I am doing something right in showing the love that I have for these children in a positive way,” Chef Ingram said. “It makes you feel like you are making a difference in a students’ life, even if it’s just one student. That’s a pretty good feeling.”
Chef Ingram has worked in culinary arts for more than 40 years and has run major chain restaurants including Ponderosa, Bonanza, Nature’s Table Cafe and Freshens Yogurt.
Chef Ingram said she loves the creativity behind cooking: “I love baking, cake decorating, making creative things and baking for other people. Students also have the opportunity to earn service hours when they help me bake for different events. I really, really enjoy what I do.”
She added that she “absolutely” loves teaching culinary arts.
“I love knowing that my kids aren’t eating ramen noodles when they go off to college,” she said.
Chef Ingram joins an other past “Extraordinary Educator” recipients, such as Goleta Union School District’s adaptive physical education teacher Michael Galvan, El Camino School’s Linda Sparkuhl, Brandon School’s Jackie Zaida, Alpha Resource Center’s Amy Buesker, Special education/transition teacher Cindy Rief, Goleta Valley Junior High School special education teacher Cameron Stewart, Brandon School’s Laura Herrera and Peabody Charter School’s Danelle Hurtdao.
“I am thankful for the award, and I hope that it can encourage other people to take my class and learn a skill and enjoy what I do,” said Chef Ingram.