Hospitality teacher Patsy Keech

ROSEMOUNT, Minn. – Service, smiles and spreading joy are essential elements for students in Patsy Keech’s hospitality management courses at Eagan High School.

“The best part of my job is helping students make joy and bring joy into our school,” said Keech, who has taught in District 196 for 22 years. “From hosting community events to decorating the school, these students utilize skills they don’t often make use of in the traditional classroom. They are helping make our school a special place that promotes community, positivity and emotion.”

Keech’s positive promotion and teaching talents have earned her the first-ever Hospitality and Tourism Management Program Educator of Excellence Award from the Minnesota Lodging Association. The award was established to recognize one Minnesota teacher each year who exhibits exemplary teaching to prepare students for careers in the hospitality industry. Keech received the award Jan. 11 at the association’s annual awards program in St. Paul.

“I am honored,” Keech said. “Helping to prepare students for success in the hospitality industry is such a fun and rewarding job.”

Keech teaches event planning, travel and tourism, and hotel and restaurant as part of the year-long hospitality management course at Eagan High. She also teaches an advanced course that offers hands-on learning through job shadows and internships with local hospitality businesses.

Hospitality management is part of the district’s Career Development Program, which also offers courses in animal science, aviation, computers and networking technology, emergency services, forensic science, medical and health care, music production, vehicle services and a mentor experience. Each of the courses is offered at one of the district’s high schools but they are open to all District 196 high school students.

In addition to her work as a teacher, Keech founded a national nonprofit organization that provides assistance to families in crisis with critically ill or seriously injured children through housing grant payment assistance, engaged resource referral and advocacy. Patsy and husband, Robb, founded Spare Key in memory of their son Derian, a courageous young boy with a joyful spirit who faced many surgeries during his short lifetime. Family, friends and strangers raised money to pay their mortgage so Patsy and Robb could be with Derian in the hospital until the day he died. They vowed to help families facing similar situations and founded Spare Key in 1997.

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