Success Stories

Dental Assisting Success Story

Visit Michael P. Folck, DDS and Associates and you will encounter not one, but four, smiling Technical and Career Education (TCE) Center graduates on staff. Javier Garringer, Jillian Hill, Hayley Hudson and Patricia Villanueva attended the TCE Center's Dental Assisting program in different cohorts, but they all have found a home at Dr. Folck's dental practice. "Each one of them came to us eager to work and further their knowledge and experiences in the dental field," says Nancy Savage, noting how well prepared the students were to work in a private dental practice.
Hill has worked at the practice since her graduation from Ocean Lakes High School in 2010. "My official title is 'dental assistant' but since working for Dr. Folck, I have gained so many skills and knowledge with current technology and treatments that it is more than just dental assisting. I am also dentomandibular rehabilitation therapist (DMRT)," says Hill. She credits the "small class size and small community" for helping her "feel comfortable and focused" during her studies at the TCE Center. "It is a tight community where people are always happy to be there," she says.
The "lab works, field trips, volunteering and state competitions" are what Villanueva, a 2015 Tallwood High School graduate, enjoyed most about her studies in the Dental Assisting program. The hands-on experience prepared her well. "I became dental assisting certified and workforce ready for my current job," says Villanueva. "I would have been really confused about the big dental works and how to respond or manage patients' questions if it wasn't for this program." Antoinette Kahan, TCE Center Dental Assisting program instructor, cannot hide her pride when talking about her former "stellar students" and their success."They don't even realize their true power yet," Kahan says. "Beautiful women with brains and talent! I am so proud of them." Visit the Dental Assisting pathways page to learn more about the TCE Center program.

Culinary Arts Success Story: Maggie DeMarco and Carson Moreland

"It's not going to be easy, and it's going to be a long process, but hopefully I can some day," says Carson Moreland about his dream to open multiple restaurants of his own.

Moreland and Maggie DeMarco, both Class of 2015 graduates of Princess Anne High School, hadn't even heard of the Technical Career and Education Center as ninth graders, let alone envisioned that it would lead to them study at the renowned Culinary Arts Institute in New York with more than $100,000 in scholarships each to pay for it.

Thankfully, an elective course teacher noticed their interest in culinary arts and encouraged them to see what the TCE Center program had to offer.

They found that it has plenty to offer and credit the TCE Center for successfully preparing them for careers in the culinary industry.

"You meet a lot of people and learn a lot," says Moreland. "It really helps you with networking. You meet so many professionals in the industry who have their own businesses and restaurants, and you get connected with so many national culinary organizations."

"You learn how to use the actual commercial equipment that you will be using in the industry," says DeMarco, highlighting the TCE Center's rotating convection oven, pizza oven, large fryer for doughnuts, dough sheeter for croissants, bread cutters and deli slicer. She adds that the opportunity to join professional organizations and earn industry certifications are more benefits to students.

"And without the Tech Center, college would be a lot more expensive," notes Moreland. "You automatically get the maximum merit-based scholarship at the CIA because you went to the Tech Center."

DeMarco agrees and credits the program's instructors for making valuable connections. "Chef Reed and Chef A know their stuff," she says. "They have a lot of industry experience and know how to connect to other organizations like C-CAP (Careers through Culinary Arts Program). That's how we got our scholarships."

DeMarco's studies in the Culinary Arts program even inspired her graduation speech as Senior Class President in which she compared their experiences as seniors to select cooking utensils – knives, whisks, spatulas and a melon baller.

"This is what we are, this is what our class is," she said, "a group, a drawer full of tools working together with different strengths, weakness, quirks, loves, hates, inspirations, goals, and dreams, trying to make sense of it all."

After making sense of all their studies at the Culinary Institute of America, both DeMarco and Moreland want to work as chefs.

"I want to stay in New York and cook for a few years, but when it comes to opening a restaurant, I do want to come back to Virginia Beach and open one here," says Moreland.

"I always think I had it in my blood to serve people and cook food," DeMarco, says, crediting her Italian grandmother for inspiring her love of cooking and career aspirations. "From the time I was a little kid, I was making meatballs with her and would go around with a piece of paper and ask family members what they wanted for breakfast," she recalls.

The TCE Center has put the aspiring chefs one step closer to fulfilling their childhood dreams, and they recommend it to others.

"You can go to a school that is directed to what you want to do with your life," Moreland says. "It helps you focus on what you want to do and helps you get better at that."

To learn more about the TCE Center's Culinary Arts program, visit the Culinary Arts pathways page.

Cosmetology Success Story: Sandra Leitsch

Sandra Leitsch will tell you she's wanted to be a hairstylist since the first grade.

"It was always my thing. I just always loved it," she says. "I played with hair on my dolls and my sisters and cut their bangs. They had awful haircuts. All my Barbies were bald. I had bangs I cut myself."

Practice makes perfect.

Today, there are no "awful haircuts" for Leitsch's clients at Twist Salon in Virginia Beach where she has been working since she graduated from Bayside High School and the Technical and Career Education (TCE) Center's cosmetology program in 2004.

Leitsch spent the days of her TCE Center senior-year internship working at Twist, and her career was born.

"I was able to take advantage of a program that led me to the career I have today. My success has a lot to do with the hard work I've put in to my career but also to the teachers at the Tech Center," says Leitsch.

Though Leitsch has always known she wanted to be a hairstylist, she didn't know about the programs and opportunities at the TCE Center until middle school.

Leitsch recalls, "I was a student at Bayside Middle School, and they had an event in the evening for parents to come learn more about the Tech Center and everything it offered. My mom was there, and it was the perfect opportunity."

"Also, it was free, so the price was right," adds Leitsch with a smile.


Leitsch is not the only person in her family to benefit from the TCE Center.

"My mom was so impressed with the Tech Center and what I got out of it, she suggested to my younger sister that she attend," Leitsch adds.

Her sister graduated from high school and from the Tech Center's dental assisting program in June 2015 and is now working at Konikoff Denistry.

As a hairstylist, what does Leitsch enjoy most about her career?

"The hands-on work. The instant gratification with a happy client," she says.

"And the people. I like people," Leitsch adds. "Everybody has a story. They talk about their relationships."

Would she recommend the TCE Center to other middle or high school students?

"Absolutely. I loved it," says Leitsch.

"I was able to do all the activities I wanted at my home school, and I made great friends at the Tech Center – great friends that I've kept," she says. "It was an amazing opportunity."

To learn more about the Cosmetology program visit the TCE Center Pathways page for Cosmetology.