When Jeanette Collett reflects on her 39-year career as a Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS) educator, you can hear the smile in her voice, “It was so rewarding -- it wasn’t work!” In recognition of FCS Educator Day and Career & Technical Education (CTE) Month, AAFCS Interim Executive Director Lori Myers, CFCS, recently had the opportunity to visit with Jeanette, who was an AAFCS member for 29 years, taught career education in high school, but spent most of her time teaching FCS to sixth, seventh, and eighth graders at Mahoney Middle School in South Portland, Maine, a community she is quick to share was very supportive of her FCS classes.
Little did she know that one of her eighth-grade students, Jen Ellis, would experience viral internet fame in 2021 thanks to the sewing skills she learned from Jeanette’s class. Ellis, now an elementary school teacher in Vermont, made and gifted those now-famous wool mittens to Bernie Sanders, which he wore at the 2021 Presidential Inauguration. Bernie and his mittens started trending on Twitter and have since inspired countless memes. Ellis has credited Mrs. Collett for teaching her how to sew and inspiring her to be a better person. In celebration of FCS Educator Day, AAFCS thanks Jeanette Collett for her to decision to “Say Yes to FCS” and for her many years of dedicated service to her students! Creating Opportunities
“My goal was to make the FCS experience a positive one for my students. I wanted my students to not only learn people skills, but learn skills that they could use every day of their life,” shared Jeanette. While providing instruction on childcare, apparel and textiles, nutrition, and personal finance, she created opportunities for the students to think critically and solve problems. Her students loved her lessons modeled after popular shows like “MasterChef” and “Cutthroat Kitchen,” which challenged them to plan and prepare a nutritious dish with limited resources. Within each FCS content area, she stressed the importance of safety when working with others and equipment. Her high school textiles course, which focused on the principles and elements of design, was offered as a fine art elective, with students designing and constructing quilts using the Log Cabin and Double Irish Chain designs and techniques.
Jeanette recalls AAFCS conferences as a great opportunity for continual learning, coming away with new ideas to try in the classroom. But, it never was just a job to Jeanette. “I wanted every student to be successful.”
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To read more about Jeanette’s #FCSsuccess, check out these stories: Bangor Daily News - South Portland Teacher Inspired the Creator of Bernice Sanders MittensPress Herald Photos