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Keeping FACS Alive: Job skills, life skills and diversity in Illinois

promoting-facs-guideThis summer Learning ZoneXpress has been asking teachers how they are keeping FACS Alive in their classrooms and schools. We were thrilled with the response and are happy to share the stories. We would love to hear from you! Help us spread the awareness of FCS in the classroom today and share your story with us. Long live “Home Ec”!

In Catlin High School we have 168 students.  My FCS classes involve on average 67 percent of the school population. Foods I and Foods II are the most popular FCS classes. Because of the popularity and interest, I created an advanced class International foods. This class exposes students to diversity.  We are a small community in Central Illinois with little to no diversity. FCS enrollment is equally divided male and female many times in Foods classes males will outnumber females. I have graduated 3 students who have continued as chefs. After graduating college with a Hotel Restaurant Management degree, a former student was told he was being offered the management position because during the hands on part of the interview, he knew how to decorate a cake. (Foods classes participate in making Gingerbread houses for charity auction at the Festival of Trees!)

Parents often comment on the conversations that have emerged at home because of the content the student learned in FCS classes.  As I approach retirement, I have had the luxury of teaching second-generation students. Students come to class sharing stories the parents told from their days in Home Ec class. FCS classes make memories to share

Child Development and Parenting has become a base for those students going into many social fields. Students coming back to get material ideas they remembered for their college classes.

The base class Introduction to FCS is supposed to be first but anyone in education knows we have to adapt and take students with all different starting points.  Intro class is great, because it is a sampling of each semester class and promotes the additional FCS classes offered; I believe it is an opportunity to encourage students to continue taking FCS classes as their electives.

Many students have come back and commented that the employment skills such as resume writing and interviewing skills paid off, whether they were college bound or applying for part-time or full-time positions.  Mr. and Mrs. Dolan, local business owners called to discuss with me what I had changed in my curriculum since I had taught their son, after our discussion I realized it wasn't my curriculum, the school changed the requirements and allowed an Economics class to qualify as a replacement for the Consumer Economics class. During the 3 years of the curriculum change, the Dolans were noticing the change in the students' skills. Mr. Dolan met with the superintendent to express his concern that this curriculum change was not beneficial to the students or the employers.

In all classes I use any opportunity to share how to save money, evaluate products and beware of advertising.

The key I believe is hands on, using updated materials such as those provided by Learning ZoneXpress.  Each week the days are divided with lecture and LAB.  Programs in FCS fail when students aren't engaged.  Classes should be structured using current information and a planned outcome.

Dianna McBride - Catlin High School
Catlin, IL

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