If you want to turn CVA teacher Kathy Nasypany’s head, call her course Home Economics.
She’ll be quick to tell you that Home Economics is something of the past; she teaches Family and Consumer Sciences (FACS).
Home economics once taught students how to take care of the house – how to cook, sew, clean, etc. Life has become more complicated due to the complex social and economic issues that individuals, families, and communities face today. Stay-at-home moms are rare; blended families and single parents households are common; eating healthy meals has become difficult with busy schedules.
Like other applied sciences, FACS has evolved to meet the changes in society and technology. The emphasis is now on issues relevant to today’s individuals and families and skills critical to successful living and working in the 21st century global society. For example, students still learn cooking skills, but they learn them in the context of learning math, science, nutrition, sustainability and economics.
The idea is best summed up by the bright pink sign that hangs over her classroom door, “Family and Consumer Sciences – Where science meets real life.”
“Students learn math and science and language skills that they expect to use in the workplace. I try to teach them to take those same skills and apply them to their own lives,” said Mrs. Nasypany.
All of this talk about science and life could start to sound boring, but Mrs. Nasypany goes to great lengths to keep learning fun.
She frequently holds cooking competitions patterned after those seen on television. This year, her room has hosted a riggiefest, a chili challenge and cupcake wars. School staff served as judges, conducting blind tastings, then scoring each dish based on flavor, appearance and presentation. Her classroom chefs have become so talented that it has become a privilege for teachers and administrators to judge.
But there is more to life than cooking and eating. In June, students were invited to bring young guests into class for a lesson in tie-dying. Preschool-age children sat with high school mentors at a table piled with markers, coffee filters and paper plates. The FACS students guided the youngsters as they drew on the coffee filters using the markers, then dripped water causing the ink to spread across the filter. After the activity, everyone enjoyed microwaved smores.
“Our students had to be the teachers. They shared their understanding with children as young a three. These are important skills to have as parents and as employees,” she said.