When Janie Leach took her position as Program Specialist at the Mississippi Department of Education, she knew she wanted to raise the bar for FACS programs across the state. Mrs. Leach wanted to provide support and visibility for programs under her umbrella: FACS, Early Childhood, Culinary, and Teacher Academy through the Office of Secondary Education and Career Technical Education. Most importantly,Janie wanted teachers to know that they have a partner at the state level to advocate for them.
Family and Consumer Sciences (FACS) include a wide variety of technical applications. These applications include: basics of food safety, details of culinary arts, child development concepts, and adult roles and responsibilities, like financial management, essential for family and community relationships. Students will use these tools for their future in college and career settings. Somehow the rigor and relevance of the skills mastered by students in FACS courses are sometimes seen as less important than other core subjects by those outside the field, when in fact, it is these basic skills which build the foundation of each student’s future success.
To raise the bar and assist Mississippi FACS teachers to incorporate a higher degree of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) into their lessons, Mrs. Leach and the MDE brought in trainers from Learning ZoneXpress for a full-day event for a core group of educators who will spread this message throughout the state. Mary Kennedy, an expert in the FACS field with 34 years of classroom experience from Wisconsin, and Maureen Lyons, a recent FACS graduate from Minnesota, facilitated the training which concluded with groups of teachers focusing on specific content areas. Work groups chose topics that fit their current programs and worked together to create project-based lessons to challenge students, while also representing each of the STEM content areas.
Teachers involved in this training appreciated the opportunity to network with one another and improve their lesson plans by adding the STEM perspectives. Mrs. Leach commented, “As our dependence on technology increases, our teaching methods must incorporate STEM skills to meet the needs of the changing workplace and the students that we serve.” Janie Leach is a leader who supports Mississippi FACS teachers to be part of the solution to a growing demand for technical skills in the workplace and the students who have the creativity, ingenuity, and ability to meet those needs.