Derien Latimer | Educator & Culinary Enthusiast

I come from a family of educators. My grandma was an elementary school teacher for 40 years.

I come from a family of educators. My grandma was an elementary school teacher for 40 years. My mom taught for over 20 years, and when my father retired from the military, he went into education and was a high school athletic director. I grew up having high regard for teachers and educators, and I knew early one I wanted to be an educator. After college, I began exploring the education field, and I was hooked. I was confident in my abilities and believed I could make a difference in the education system. I went back to school for a masters in administration, and not soon after I became assistant principal for 12 years. For that 12-year span, I worked at 5 middle schools. Most recently I accepted a job at James Madison middle school as a principal.

When I look back at the people who had the biggest influences on my life, it was educators, and it was teachers. In 5th grade, my teacher, Sam Chambers made education engaging for me. I wasn’t the best student, but he just engaged me beyond the content, he was interested in who I was and affirmed my gifts and talents. Him and other teachers like him inspired me to achieve. Those moments made me feel better than scoring a touchdown in college. Having the admiration of the teacher was impactful for me. That’s why I went into education. I wanted to make another student feel the same way that those special teachers made me feel. Being an educator is fulfilling work, its hard work, it’s a calling. What greater things can you do that to boost a young person on their journey to adulthood. We get to pour into these kids. we get to shape lives.

I remember my mom sitting my sister and I down to tell us, ”look, its time for yall to start cooking. I have to work all day, you both have to help out” My mom didn’t give us any directions, she just said ‘. “If you want to eat you got to figure it out,” and we just learned on the go. That was my introduction to cooking.

Fast forwards years later, I was in Oregon at a family gathering, and my brother in law used to always burn the chicken on the grill. One day I just got tired of eating burnt chicken, so I got on the grill and cooked the chicken. From that point forward, I was appointed grill master at family functions. I kept getting better, and one day people were talking about how good my chicken was. Eventually, I began getting hired to cook for friends. That how my business started in 2007. Even though my calling is to work with kids, my passion is cooking. I listen for the noise level to go down at an event because their mouths are full. It’s a great feeling when people are enjoying the food so much that the place goes quiet. I think food definitely brings people together.

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Derien Latimer | Educator & Culinary Enthusiast

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