Molly is in 12th grade, this is her 3rd year in Journalism. She manages the varsity football team and she loves to cook. After college she wants to be...
Photo Courtesy of Andrea Pankau
Pankau Loves Life in the Kitchen
February 6, 2023
Pankau Loves Life in the Kitchen
You might have heard the phrase “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen,” which means if you can’t handle the pressure of a position, get out. You’d think that having to be a long-term substitute teacher in a topic in which you aren’t trained might be a pressure-filled situation. However, Andrea Pankau, who is doing a long-term sub as the Culinary teacher, is making it seem like a piece of cake.
Pankau began the 2023 school year doing a long-term sub for Spanish teacher Jennifer Kettrick (even though she is not licensed to teach Spanish), followed by regular short-term sub jobs. When former Culinary teacher Kate Chidester moved to another school in December, school administrators had a dilemma: How could they find someone to finish out Chidester’s job when Culinary teachers are so hard to find? Principal Margo Bruce thought of Pankau, who had shown an ability to adapt well to teaching on a variety of topics.
Meanwhile, Pankau said she’s always loved to cook, whether for her family or to entertain friends, and that she also loves trying new foods, new restaurants, and supporting local farms in the area. She enjoys creating fresh, healthy meals, so when Bruce gave Pankau the opportunity to teach her passion, it was a no-brainer. “I love what I do and I do what I love,” Pankau says.
Pankau attended Wilkes Community College for two years, then transferred to Chowan University where she got her bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education. Before coming to FCHS, she was a preschool teacher, as well as a nanny for a family, and an after-school director.
So she definitely has experience in teaching. But how exactly does a long-term substitute prepare for teaching a class for an entire semester? “The priority when starting as the Intro to Culinary teacher was to build relationships,” Pankau said. “I needed to break the wall down because the class had two prior big changes with teachers leaving and I went in needing to get to know them before we could dig into the Culinary. I then assessed what they had learned already and what they needed to learn to check off all their Career and Technical education (CTE) competencies, and what part of the curriculum hadn’t been touched on yet. [I] built the curriculum on that,” she added.
Pankau said a major part of the Culinary curriculum involves learning life skills. “Even if my students don’t pursue Culinary, they will learn so much more for daily life as well. I also love seeing them do things in a kitchen they’ve never done before, for example, making a pie or even using a knife,” she said.
Another major focus of Culinary is on sanitation. “Sanitation is important to prevent food contamination and food borne illness from happening. There are more than 40 food-borne illnesses. Mostly we can fight off on our own, but a handful can make us very sick, and sometimes it can lead to death,” said Pankau.
When she’s not teaching, Pankau still enjoys cooking and eating. Her favorite food is anything Italian, and anything pasta, and she particularly enjoys making lasagna, enchiladas and curry chicken. She’s also has a busy family life. “I am a mama to three kiddos. Two attend Fluvanna High School, 8th and 9th grade, and the youngest is 5th grade at Fluvanna Middle School,” said Pankau. A “diehard Buffalo Bills fan,” she loves to “travel and explore new towns, try new restaurants and spend time with family,” she added.
In the future, “I have really enjoyed being at Fluvanna High School and hope to continue to teach and grow in my profession,” Pankau said.