Education isn't only about the core subject areas – students in Georgia's public schools are being prepared for life.
One example of that? The Family and Consumer Sciences program, which prepares students for post-secondary education and careers in the business-related aspects of family and consumer sciences. This program provides opportunities to develop the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and behaviors students need to become responsible citizens and leaders, and to manage the challenges of living and working in a diverse global society. Once known as Home Economics, FACS now includes the Career Pathways of Nutrition & Food Science, Early Childhood Care and Education, Teaching as a Profession, Culinary Arts, Housing & Community Management and Interiors, Fashion & Textile Science.
In addition to classroom/laboratory instruction, which aids in the development of academic and technical skills, the Family and Consumer Sciences program includes participation in Family Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA), a career and technical student organization. FCCLA provides an array of activities to enhance student academic and technical competencies and develop leadership and communication skills.
February 12 is National Family and Consumer Sciences Educators Day. In honor of that, we wanted to introduce you to several of Georgia’s excellent FACS educators and partners. Learn more and share your FACS experience with the hashtag #SayYestoFCS.
Hope Zimmerman, Clarke Middle School, Clarke County
"Some of the most significant moments I have as a FACS educator involve hearing stories about how my students apply what they learn in my classroom to their own lives. A student recently asked me for the class recipe for kohlrabi pancakes so that he could not only try his hand at cooking this dish independently, but also so that he could introduce his little sister to a new vegetable. Situations like this help me to press pause and reflect on the fact that a simple cooking lesson can be translated into a life lesson, whether it involves cooking, nutrition, or how to be a mindful consumer. I get a lot of joy from hearing about students’ adventures in their home kitchens, as well as their new perspectives on where their food comes from and how the food that they consume contributes to their overall health. I went into FACS education focusing on how I could help students prepare for their future lives, not fully realizing that a lot of what they learn can also be applied to their present-day lives. I tell students that this is NOT a cooking class, although we do cook in my class. I stress that this class focuses on life. This clicks at different moments for different students, but when it does, it reminds me of why I do what I do."
Cara Winston Simmons, Director of the Student Success and Advising Center, UGA College of Family and Consumer Sciences
"Until I began working in the UGA College of Family and Consumer Sciences, my familiarity with family and consumer science as a discipline was limited. As I learned more, it made me recall one of my fondest school memories. It was a class where I learned culinary skills and served as the manager of our pop-up class restaurant. At that time, I didn’t realize it was a family and consumer science class. As I look back, I realize that class provided me with foundational life and leadership skills. I support FACS education for two primary reasons. First, it keeps our society moving forward. Second, what you learn in family and consumer science stays with you for a lifetime. For those reasons, I am excited about the future of the profession and the emerging generation of educators that will blaze new trails in family and consumer science education."
Lillian Mitchell, Babb Middle School, Clayton County
"Family and Consumer Sciences education prepares students to succeed in the real world. These programs are essential for quality family life. Many students excel in their academic studies, but lack the skills of consumer finance and/or many of the other skills taught in FACS education. It is easier to teach these principles to youth than to get adults to stop poor practices that have led them down roads of negative consequences such as bankruptcy, poor child guidance practices, or lack of professionalism in the workplace. Everyone will assume the role of homemaker regardless of ability, income, status or gender. Family and Consumer Sciences education is a program that can prepare the present and future generations to be better family members and community leaders in their homes, workplace and the community."
Leigh Johnson, Family & Consumer Sciences Educator, Berrien County Schools, Teacher and Region 8 FCCLA Adviser
"I support FACS education because it impacts individuals, families and communities. FACS education shaped the home in which I grew up. My mother was a Home Economics student and FHA State Officer. As a result, I became a FACS student and an FCCLA state officer. What I learned in the classroom has shaped the way I fulfill my roles as wife, mother, teacher and community member. FACS makes a difference in the lives of students as they are given opportunities to grow as while studying a discipline that can be applied to their everyday life. As educators we always strive to see our students succeed. In my classroom, students take the ServSafe Foodhandler exam as their End of Pathway test. We also offer the ServSafe Managerial test for those who want to push themselves further. It was an exciting day when seven students from one class passed the Managerial test. Of these seven students, one was "fast tracked" to be a manager at a local food establishment and one received a $1,000 scholarship from a business and industry partner as a direct result of passing the exam. This was huge for both of the students. Of my graduating seniors this year, three have chosen to attend Johnson and Wales University to become chefs and are receiving scholarships to attend. I have one student who is planning to major in nutrition and then apply to medical school to become a pediatrician. No matter what path they choose, my students, especially those active in FCCLA, agree that the skills learned in FACS will be beneficial and practical as they proceed with future plans. While in a FACS class, students learn soft skills, communication skills and practical knowledge related to the class they are taking. These students make better employees, better family members and better students as a result of their FACS experiences."
Gregg Harrell, Camden County High School, Camden County
"I support FACS education because, back in the 1980s, I had a construction teacher believe in me and take me to a wiring competition. My family was going through a severely hard time. This teacher paid for my lunch and brought washcloths and towels so I could take a sponge bath during school. He set the bar high for me and told me to move on to a better life. I left in June 1986 and have never looked back. I even served as President Clinton’s chef, and on the Presidential travel team. That teacher truly planted a seed that has undeniably been harvested. The Lord has led me to this job. I have found comfort and achievement with being a FACS educator that has now rewarded me with a passion to help students succeed."
Dr. Debbie Phillips, CPM, Georgia Apartment Industry Education Foundation, Adjunct Professor with the Georgia Tech School of Building Instruction, and Industry Liaison with the UGA College of Family and Consumer Sciences
"FACS education offers the most solid foundation for building careers for students. The human ecosystem is fundamental to society and our students are exposed to diverse pathways that prepare them for REAL LIFE! In the ten years that I’ve been teaching Introduction to FACS, I’ve seen students expand their field of study and apply these fundamental principles in a variety of careers that are rewarding, challenging and fun. Most recently, I hired a child life specialist who was working in adolescent oncology and she is now a project manager for our Foundation. She understands the needs of families and she instantly made the connection between quality housing and a positive environment for families. Truly a win-win! This happens quite frequently. FACS education is the best catalyst for developing transferable skills."
Aroneysa Braxton-Harris, Cedar Grove High School, DeKalb County
"I support FACS Education because it equips young people with the skills needed to survive and thrive in their daily lives. It makes learning enjoyable and shows students how to apply their knowledge and skills into real-world situations. FACS classes are taught in an interactive environment with lots of hands-on activities. The impact the FACS Education and FCCLA has had on me and the students of Cedar Grove High School is unparalleled. It has opened the minds of my students to the possibilities life has to offer. I teach something different each and every day that can incorporate standards and concepts from all core courses that they can incorporate in their everyday lives – concepts such as employability skills, relationships, nutrition, money management skills, history of American education, and human growth and development. Students are interested in these subjects because they learn new skills they can use throughout their lives. I feel that I'm making a difference in every student's life when I see their skills develop and they graduate and become productive citizens and lifelong learners with careers. My students have experienced much success with FACS education and FCCLA. Cedar Grove High School was the first Early Childhood Education program in the DeKalb County School District to become industry certified, and we have had national FCCLA winners for the last six years. My students have competed and experienced success in FCCLA competitions in Chicago, IL, Anaheim, CA, San Antonio, TX, Orlando, FL, Nashville, TN, and Washington, DC. FACS education and FCCLA have made my students more confident, enhanced their leadership abilities, and allowed them the opportunity to meet new people from all over the country."
Lynn Burch, Fannin County High School, Fannin County
"FACS education is life-changing! Students gain knowledge, skills and have the opportunity to participate in activities that can positively impact their lives today and influence the rest of their lives. The purpose of FACS education is to prepare students for personal growth, family, life and careers. My students have so many success stories. Some students have achieved recognition on the state and national levels through FCCLA, while others students have made career choices in the FACS arena. Student success is life-changing! Building relationships with students, their families, and the community is key. During the past twenty-eight years, as a FACS teacher I have had the joy of being able to work with students, their families and our community. Teaching the children of previous students is amazing. When students share that their parents still talk about what they learned in my classroom years ago, and they use the information in their lives today, I realize the significance and value of FACS education. Family and Consumer Sciences education changes lives because it not only impacts the present, but the future as well. I am honored to be a Family and Consumer Sciences teacher!"
Michael Rupered, Assistant to the Dean for FACS Ed/Extension Financial Management Specialist, UGA College of Family and Consumer Sciences
"In college many years ago, I struggled to find a degree program that made sense, given my interests and proclivities. Stumbling upon the family resource management program in the College of Home Economics at the University of Kentucky turned my life around. At the time, I had no idea what I would do with the degree, but knew the information would be useful to me in any endeavor. I went on to obtain a master's degree in consumer economics and have spent nearly thirty rewarding and satisfying years as an family and consumer sciences educator with Cooperative Extension."
Jen Girvin, Georgia FCCLA Executive Director
"I remember the impact my involvement in Family and Consumer Sciences and FCCLA had on me when I was in junior high and high school. FCCLA provided a venue for me to learn leadership, thinking and communication. I have enjoyed working with students over the last 15 years. It's amazing to see their personal growth while involved in FCCLA!"
Tony Atchison, Towers High School, DeKalb County
"I support Family and Consumer Sciences education/culinary arts because it allows students to plan for viable careers, develop effective teamwork skills, leadership and technology skills that will maximize their higher-level critical skills to meet the challenges in the 21st century. As a current CTAE educator, I am seeing more and more male students becoming involved in this area of Family and Consumer Sciences education. These young people are positively impacting their communities, families and peers by actively engaging in community service projects, social development and mentoring. My philosophy for learning is that each child is unique, and each child learns in a different way. One of my jobs as a teacher is to help your child discover his or her individuality and work alongside with them to maximize it. I believe in hands-on experiences, learning creatively and learning through observation and collaboration."