The Education Fund ( kicks off 2018 with Taste of Education presented by Sapoznik Insurance on Thursday, Feb. 8, an evening dedicated to celebrating volunteers and the culinary dreams of high school students.


    Taste of Education showcases the gastronomic talents of students in 16 culinary high school programs in Miami-Dade County Public Schools. Students competing 30 teams will prepare gourmet bites and vy for top prizes. The culinary competition kicks off at 5 p.m. at the Double Tree by Hilton at the Miami Airport Convention Center, 711 NW 72nd Ave., in Miami.


    Judges – local top chefs – will determine the winning teams, each of which will receive cash prizes. This year’s judges are Claude Postel, Café Crème; Chef Irie Sinclair, Taste of the Caribbean; Dayanny de la Cruz, Miami Dolphins; Misha Gomez, Misha’s Cupcakes; Anthony Garcia, King of Racks BBQ; and Matthias Kammerer, The Biltmore Hotel and member of The Education Fund Board of Directors.


    “A Taste of Education gives high school culinary students a taste of the big time, providing them much needed hands on experience,” said Linda Lecht, president of The Education Fund, a nonprofit that funds innovative programs for public schools in Miami-Dade County. “This unique culinary competition is a natural extension of our Edible Garden Program, which features 51 organic gardens in public elementary schools in Miami-Dade County. Students are learning at an early age about the importance of eating clean and being healthy.”


    A Taste of Education also celebrates the 270 volunteers in the 2018 Teach-A-Thon, a campaign that fosters awareness about the teaching profession and teaching quality, while raising money for educators and their students. This year, CEOs and local business and community leaders volunteered to “step into the shoes” of local educators. Each volunteer (Teacher Champion) teamed up with a Miami-Dade County public school teacher to prepare a lesson and deliver it to energetic students from K through 12.


    The campaign, sponsored by Wells Fargo, Assurant Foundation and Sapoznik Insurance, kicked off on Oct. 1 and ended January 31, however, fundraising ends on March 31. Volunteers included Wells Fargo Regional President Hector Ponte and Sapoznik Insurance CEO Rachel Sapoznik, both of whom participated for the fourth straight year. Also featured were Florida Blue Market President Penny Shaffer; Carlos Orta, VP for Carnival Corp.; Christine Barney, CEO of rbb Communications; Joe Natoli, executive VP at Baptist Health South Florida; and Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce President Gene Schaefer, among many others.


    Part of the Teach-A-Thon included raising money for local schools, with proceeds funding school supplies, field trips and other classroom activities. So far this year, Teacher Champions have raised more than $76,000 for and The Education Fund’s programs in Miami-Dade County Public Schools. Over the nine years The Education Fund has held the Teach-A-Thon, the campaign has raised more than $600,000 for local schools.


    “The goal of the The Education Fund’s Teach-a-Thon is more important than ever as funding for and belief in public education continues to decrease while other countries embrace their public education systems,” Lecht said. “Public understanding of the role of teachers is critical. It’s by investing in teachers that we will be able to compete in the global marketplace.”


    About The Education Fund

    The Education Fund brings innovative methods to our local public schools, informs the community about public education, and encourages private sector investment in public education. Due to its success in improving student outcomes, including improving science scores by 70%, eating habits by 50% and college enrollment by 34%, The Education Fund has won numerous awards, including the Greater Miami Chamber’s NOVO Award for Non-Profit Excellence and the Blue Foundation’s Sapphire Award. Visit