» meet Tonya McGill, EdD FOOD AND NUTRITION SERVICES DIRECTOR » Newark (N.J.) Public Schools Q How long have you been an SNA member, and how many Annual National Conferences (ANCs) have you attended? A Twenty-seven years. I’ve attended approximately 20 ANCs. The first one I attended was in Orlando, Fla., in 1989, when Shirley Watkins was national president. The networking and presentations were amazing. All of the members were exceptionally kind and welcoming. Q If you came with a warning label, what would it say? A “Caution: Handle with Care.” The role of foodservice director comes with a great deal of responsibilities and liberties, and I approach and handle these with a great deal of care. I equate this with treating people with kindness; if you approach staff and students in this manner, they will flourish and grow. I hope that this shows in the work I do daily, and that my staff knows that I try to approach them and every situation with care. Q Are you messy or organized? A I’m extremely neat and organized. Everyone knows I hate clutter and disorder. Q What kitchen appliance do you use every day and what do you make in it? A My Vitamix Blender. I make my morning green smoothie, consisting of spinach or kale, banana, half of an orange and fresh ginger. The Vitamix is so versatile; I make all my drinks, dressings and soups in this one unit. It’s the best appliance I’ve ever purchased. Q Favorite meals to cook and to eat out? A My favorite to cook is Thanksgiving dinner. Although it’s a lot of work, it’s very gratifying. When eating out, my favorite is a seafood dish called Parihada De Marisco at a Newark restaurant called Adega Grill (excellent, excellent, excellent). It’s a dish for two that contains a whole lobster, lobster tails, jumbo prawns, scallops, etc., with saffron rice and Spanish potatoes. Q What’s the most unusual thing you’ve ever eaten? A Squid ink at a restaurant in Washington, D.C., years ago with friends. The entrée was drizzled with squid ink—it was not very good! Q If you were a superhero, what powers would you have? A I’d be omni-linguist, like Wonder Woman. Being able to speak any language in the world would be amazing. I don’t know any languages other than English, but I love to travel abroad. My last trip was to Italy. My next adventure will be in Greece. Q What motivates you to work hard? A My family. Both my son and my mother are always in my corner and they are my greatest supporters; to them, I can accomplish anything. And when I am down, they are always there to lift my spirits. Q What’s one comment from a boss that really resonated with you? A “You know your job and you do it well, therefore never be afraid to discuss and share what you know with others, even if they disagree with you.” That empowered me to work harder and learn all I could about this industry, so I could help others along the way.
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