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Although Amy’s career did not start in school food service, she now loves it so much she says that if she could go back in time, she would have gone into school food service from the beginning. After graduating from a culinary school Amy went to work for a country club, working there for several years until she felt ready for a change. A job opportunity with a food service management company came up and she applied for and got the job. After working for the company for 1 ½ years, a job at a self-operating school district (California Area) close to home became available. Amy began working there in 2009 and moved to her current school district, Brownville Area, in 2013.

amy-keelerOn Amy’s first official day as director at California Area School District, she attended the “Orientation to School Food Service Operations” offered by the Pennsylvania Department of Education through Project PA. Amy credits this training with being invaluable in introducing her to the various aspects of school food service. She called the training “phenomenal.” On the advice of a retiring school food service director, Amy got involved in the Pittsburgh Regional Food Service Directors group and the School Nutrition Association of Pennsylvania, both of which provided support, valuable training, and opportunities to network with other directors.

Amy is taking on the role as mentor because she says, “People were so welcoming to me. I would be thrilled to pay it forward.” She would advise new directors to reach out to others because she has found the school food service community to be very open to sharing and very non-competitive. If they’re feeling stressed or frustrated, she would like them to know that there are people out there to help them and hopes that they feel rewarded in knowing that, “At the end of the day, they do great things for kids.”