By Erin O’Callahan
WAVE – also known as the Western Arizona Vocational Education – has its culinary and business management programs located in a building that many high school students as well as community members have come to know and love.
The WAVE building is located at 1540 Palo Verde Blvd. South, and hosts high school students four days of the week. And within those days, the instructors – Shawna Schneikart and Karla Desper – teach using their backgrounds in culinary and business management.
WAVE/JTED was approved by voters of Mohave and La Paz counties in November 2008 allowing funding for occupational training.
The Lake Havasu Unified School District had an opportunity to purchase its first WAVE building a few years ago and it was already equipped as a restaurant.
The WAVE idea was developed over time and with the opportunity of an off-campus site with fewer restrictions, and the building was perfect.
Karla Desper is the instructor for the culinary program at WAVE, while Shawna Schneikart teaches business management. Their goal for opening the WAVE building was to create the program’s own identity.
Schneikart said she is a big advocate for having a building that benefits several different groups.”It is more user-friendly and applicable to more situations. We have been able to create a very strong program. In our first year, we had 25 students and in our fifth year, we now have 80,” she said.
This integrated approach to teaching leaves the two teachers also as principals, who also manage the building. Both of them have very different jobs while running the show, though.
Desper teaches everything that has to do with food preparation, while Schneikart teaches everything that is the front of the house. Within the five years that WAVE has been open, they have had a handful of students go on to earn internships, scholarships and prize money.
Their biggest piece of advice is, “it is not who you work for, it is who you work with.”
WAVE was started because of Schneikart’s business, hospitality and accounting background as well as Desper’s culinary background. Together, they are proud of giving a vocational opportunity to students.
WAVE has many events coming up as well as competition later on in the year. To learn more about WAVE, visit the website at wavejted.org.