Edgren Middle High School students cultivate culinary skills Published Oct. 4, 2023 By Airman 1st Class Koby Mitchell 35th Fighter Wing Public Affairs MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- A light chuckle breaks over the sound of wood scraping metal as an instructor tries to reassure his student, who burnt the pan leaving fried rice caked to its bottom. The student, feeling increasingly frustrated with the stubborn remnants of the meal, intensifies their efforts to remove the charred bits. In a composed manner, the instructor advises the student to switch to a different pan and try again, this time generously adding more oil. Recently, U.S. Air Force Col. Michael Richard, 35th Fighter Wing commander, hosted a garden party. The event brought together various members of Team Misawa, along with local Japanese officials, including the mayor of Misawa City. It also allowed a small team of students, led by Edgren Middle High School culinary instructor Rob McDonald, the opportunity to prepare a selection of dishes for the 35th Fighter Wing commander and his distinguished guests. This garden party served as a platform to strengthen community relations between Misawa Air Base and the local population, all was made possible through the collaborative efforts of the diverse parties that make up Team Misawa, including McDonald’s culinary class. With 17 years of experience in culinary instruction, including five years at Edgren Middle High School, McDonald reflects on the unique advantages of his teaching environment. He emphasizes the benefits of working with military-affiliated students on base. “Teaching at an overseas military installation overall is a better experience for both the student and the educator ,” said McDonald. “Being in an international setting cultivates more open-minded thinkers and has provided me and the students a more comfortable and secure environment.” Reflecting on the event, McDonald expresses his pride in his students’ performance, and their ability to complete a task that directly impacted the relationship between the base and the local community. This contribution highlights Misawa Air Base’s commitment to nurturing strong relationships with its local partners. “I was very proud of them, and they took it seriously.” McDonald said. “I was proud to see my students apply the skills they’ve learned to a real-world event, far beyond the confines of a typical classroom.” McDonald leverages his class to impart fundamental culinary skills, with the overarching goal of improving his students’ lives and equipping them with valuable life skills. “The importance of culinary for me, now that I’ve been doing this as long as I have, is to have what I refer to as ‘food literacy,’” said McDonald. “I want my students to feel confident in being able to take a small budget whether as college students, graduates, or even a newly enlisted military members, and be able to prepare a satisfying meal.” McDonald represents just one of the many dedicated educators at Edgren Middle High School, embodying the school’s mission to inspire and empower its students. Through his teaching and leadership, McDonald not only enhances his students’ culinary proficiency, but also encourages them to actively contribute to the community, thereby enriching their surroundings.