Educator Spotlight: Anna Sullinger, 2017 Affiliate Teacher of the Year

By AAFCS Team posted 11-01-2017 12:00 AM

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Making a Difference
:  "Bringing Back the Validity of Family and Consumer Sciences"

This edition spotlights Anna Sullinger as the 2017 AAFCS Affiliate Teacher of the Year for Kentucky.  College and career readiness is the current buzz phrase that has given validity to FCS curriculum. Students have pressure to make selections, including a career pathway for high school, without proper knowledge. In eighth grade FCS courses, students delve deeper into career pathways and examine the choices for scheduling. Students meet with guidance counselors and take field trips to our local career and technical centers to see opportunities available and make an informed choice.

Program Focus:
Teaching Family and Consumer Sciences in a middle schools setting is quite different than in a secondary setting (high school), due to the fast pace and amount of curriculum that needs to be covered, which creates challenges.  The first day as a middle school teacher, after teaching in a secondary setting for close to 9 years, I realized that big changes needed to be made to the curriculum, classroom and focus for the betterment of students. From observation, it appeared that students were used to completing worksheets, having guest speakers, watching videos, etc. but lacked rigor and the application piece of instruction.  Beginning in the middle of the 2014-2015 school year, it was a challenge to hit the ground running, but knew this program needed rebuilding and revitalization.  Middle school FCS is comparable to high school in the way that students are served, a teacher may have students for a single course or multiple years.  However, in a middle school setting students that are in the 8th grade course may be new to FCS content, whereas, some students in the 8th grade course may be in their third year of content.  In high school, courses typically build on each other if connected content, which means instructors have clear standards and objectives to instruct.  In Kentucky, middle school has one set of learning outcomes that could be covered anytime in middle school as the courses are introductory or exploratory.  The state and national standards for FCS are innovative and up to date with present day, and I needed to move my program to be in sync with those standards.  Soon, I was given a budget to spend on updates for the program and the school re-established FCCLA.  I worked with a state curriculum team to develop a new middle school curriculum based on the CTE pathway system and the national standards.  I also established a strong partnership with the local Cooperative Extension office.  The Extension agent and other volunteers come to my class to speak and assist with student projects.  The partnerships were further developed with Junior Achievement, local chefs, and counselors.  These community partnerships have strengthened the FCS program seven fold.

School/Community Setting
Beaumont Middle School is a comprehensive middle school located on the Southwestern side of Lexington.  The enrollment of Beaumont is 1,145 students with 63% Caucasian, 16% Hispanic, 10% African American, 8% Asian, and 3% Other.  Inclusive of those demographics, includes 37% free and reduced, 6% English language learners and 8% of the student population requires special education services.  The average class size for introductory to life essentials is 30-32 students, with a current enrollment of 155.  As a one-teacher department on the exploratory team, I teach 5 classes and have one planning period.  Students take family and consumer sciences at Beaumont on a nine-week rotation and are eligible to take the course each year.  Over the course of a school year, approximately 620 students, slightly over half the school, will have taken the introductory FCS course on the sixth, seventh, or eighth grade classes.  Each year, the enrollment in FCS courses has remained the same.

Why did you "Say Yes to FCS"?

I said Yes to FCS because of the positive impact my FCCLA adviser and FCS teacher, Ann Porter had on me. I never felt really good at anything and found my place in FCS. She pushed me out of my comfort zone and gave me confidence when I needed it. I’m so thankful for the leadership and life skills she instilled in me.