SNF Scholarship Series: #ANC17 First Timer Morgan Bean, Homewood City Schools, Alabama

Welcome to the 2017 School Nutrition Foundation Scholarship Series! We’re revisiting our annual series, in which we connect you with SNA colleagues from around the country to learn more about them, and how an SNF scholarship is helping them pursue goals and achieve their dreams.

 Our First Timer scholarship recipients were nominated by a supervisor or director. First Timer scholarships help defray the cost of attending the Annual National Conference for first-time attendees. Visit our website to learn more about the SNF First Timer scholarships.

Morgan Bean is the CNP Manager at Shades Cahaba Elementary in Homewood City Schools (Ala.), and a 2017 ANC First Timer Award winner. Nominated by her director, Erin Chelewski, Bean says she stumbled into school foodservice while completing her dietetic internship and quickly fell in love with the profession.

“It was kind of random, I didn’t plan for this at all—school nutrition is kind of a niche thing!” recalled Bean. “Most people haven’t even thought about ‘school foodservice’ as a career, but it’s a very common one—we’re in every town and city! Once I did a [school foodservice] internship I realized this was something I’d like to be involved with; I applied for a job straight out of college and began managing at an elementary school.”

Describing her day-to-day duties as “different—always changing,” Bean says you can find her anywhere from behind the register to prepping breakfast to preparing paperwork—whatever needs to be done in any given moment. Bean works in one of the smaller buildings in her district; Shades Cahaba has about 560 students, with a low free-and-reduced rate. Although she and her staff serve approximately 400 of those students a day, Bean is going to Atlanta in search of marketing strategies to engage students and improve participation.

“It’s almost like running a restaurant,” she explained. “We need a lot of new ideas to keep them interested in eating with us. I love learning different types of marketing strategies to draw students in, and I’ve looked at a few different sessions on that topic. I also love food expos, so I’m interested in seeing new products we can use, and new equipment that will make my life and my staff’s lives easier. Oh, and anything that helps with personnel and management styles, and how to better train your staff!”

Homewood City Schools’ nutrition director Erin Chelewski says it was Bean’s energy, enthusiasm, and willingness to learn that first caught her eye when Bean came to work for her two years ago.

“She came into a school where all of the employees had been there for ten-plus years, and she followed a manager who was there for over twenty years,” recalled Chelewski. “Morgan was very young—just 22 when she came in—but she didn’t pay attention to that. She immediately wanted to learn as much as she could from her employees; she really caught on quickly.”

Bean continued to seek out education and growth opportunities on the job, and became an Alabama SNA member. When a colleague from a neighboring district mentioned one of their employees had received an SNF ‘First Timer’ scholarship, Chelewski immediately submitted a nomination for Bean as well.

Grateful to Chelewski for her guidance, Bean looks forward to their trip to Atlanta and the experience of attending the conference together.

“She’s very open to teaching and working with me, and she noticed that I was always looking at the big picture, and was happy to explain her side of the process,” said Bean. “Erin lets me help because she knows I want to learn. She’s all about trying new things and being creative, and when we want to try something new she’s always on-board and supportive.”

From her perspective as director. Chelewski is excited for Bean to have the full ANC experience, from the Exhibit Hall to the education sessions to the networking opportunities.

“I know she’s going to enjoy it, and I think she’s going to bring back inspiration and ideas—she’ll probably come back overloaded with ideas to implement!” said Chelewski. “She wants to grow and become a director one day, and I’m going to do everything I can to get her there.” She paused and laughed, “I don’t want her to have my job, but I want her to want it!”

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