Q and A: Barb Torrey

A local family and consumer science teacher has won a statewide award.

Barb Torrey at Franklin Community High School was the recipient of the Carl Perkins Community Service Award from the Indiana Association of Career and Technical Education. She talks about why she wanted to teach family and consumer science and the community service she organized for her students.

What are some community service projects you have done with FCCLA?

All of the community service projects done by FCCLA have had some relation to the subjects taught in Family and Consumer Sciences courses. Of course, FACS classes cover skills needed for everyday living, so just about everything is related to one of our subject areas.

Volunteering to do community service gives students the opportunity to learn new talents, increase self-confidence and develop transferable skills that will help them in the workplace. We have made five quilt tops for Quilts of Valor which were finished by other volunteers and given to wounded U.S. soldiers.

We partnered with Nimble Thimbles Quilt Club to work on a national quilting project called “Operation Kid Comfort” to make five comfort quilts for children who had a parent deployed overseas. FCCLA members prepared a Thanksgiving meal for one of our local families whose mother was receiving hospice support.

Students have participated in the Franklin Parks and Recreation “Trick Your Trunk” event; participated in the nationwide “1,000,000 Pillowcase Challenge” where the students used their sewing skills to select fun fabrics and sew 86 pillowcases for ConKerr Cancer; helped our local organization, KIC-IT (Kids in Crisis Intervention Team) after hearing its founder speak to their housing class about homelessness in our area.

Students planned and organized the distribution of food to students who didn’t have enough to eat on weekends. FCCLA students participated in the FCCLA National Outreach Project, “Share Our Strength, No Kid Hungry” for three years. Students planned and carried out successful bake sales held at Franklin’s Walmart store raising over $1,300, which benefited food pantries across the country.

Last year FCCLA partnered with the American Sewing Guild Indy to help them make some of the 2,000 Christmas stockings for Indiana troops that they have made yearly since we have been at war. These stockings are filled by another organization then sent to the troops.

Franklin’s FCCLA chapter hosted the Fall District Meeting for our area and FCCLA members and advisers from six schools joined forces and produced 371 Christmas stockings.

Why did you want to become a FACS teacher?

I became interested in being a FACS teacher when I was in a home economics class in seventh grade. I remember loving the class and seeing a video about all of the possible careers in this area, and I was hooked.

There are other careers in family and consumer science that interest me, but I have loved teaching too much to ever make a career change.

How do you pick the community service projects to be involved in?

Most of our community service projects have evolved from course content, student interest and input, suggestions from guest speakers and becoming aware of various needs in the community. There are many opportunities available. We just have to recognize them.

What is your favorite class to teach?

I enjoy teaching all of the FACS classes, but my favorite classes to teach are in the fashion and textiles area. I love to sew and create and teach others to do the same.

What has been your favorite project?

I believe my favorite project has been our stocking project. It was so much fun getting other schools involved, all working on the same project. Our students enjoyed hosting students from Avon, Carmel, Greenfield, Shelbyville and Beech Grove.

What is your favorite thing about teaching FACS classes?

I love what I teach. FACS classes link academics with skills needed for everyday living. Everything taught in FACS classes is relevant to students’ lives and can be used now and in the future.

I love watching the students learn, create and then apply the lessons to their own lives.

What are some challenges in teaching FACS classes?

Simply put, time and money are major challenges. There is a lot of time involved in working with each student and preparing for classes. I can often be seen shopping for groceries at Walmart after 6 p.m. one or two nights a week, which makes for a very long day.

Large class sizes in lab classes is a huge challenge, but we seem to be handling it successfully. I also have a hard time saying “No” to projects. I need at least two of me to do everything I would like to do!

How many students are in your chapter of FCCLA this year?

Our FCCLA enrollment is growing every year. We have almost 50 students signed up for FCCLA this year. We hope to earn the “50 by 50” award if we get 50 students who have paid their dues by the end of this month. (We just qualified for the “30 by 30” award!) All students who take FACS classes are considered part of FCCLA.