Clover Teacher of the Year focuses on life skills

news@enquirerherald.comAugust 21, 2013 

— Christy Wilson, a family and consumer sciences teacher at Clover High School, believes she teaches some of the most important lessons her students can learn.

Food, nutrition and wellness. Parenting and relationships. Personal and career development.

“I feel like I’m the luckiest teacher, because I get to teach family and consumer sciences,” said Wilson, 37, who was named the Clover School District’s 2013-14 Teacher of the Year last week, during opening convocation.

Wilson, who graduated from Clover High School in 1994 and earned her teaching degree from Winthrop University, knew she wanted to teach since her high school days in the Teacher Cadet program.

She decided to major in family and consumer science education because she wanted to teach students life skills. This fall, Wilson is beginning her 16th year in the classroom.

“This is curriculum that students are going to need,” said Wilson, who has two children, ages 4 and 7. “They’re going to need information about relationships regardless of what career they choose.”

This isn’t the first honor Wilson has received for teaching. This past year, she was named statewide 2013 Teacher of the Year for the S.C. Family and Consumer Science Association.

Wilson teaches a core Family and Consumer Science class that covers food, nutrition and wellness; clothing and textiles; personal development; and career development. She also teaches Family Life Education classes I and II, which include parenting skills and incorporate computerized baby simulators; and Fashion, Fabric and Design.

Students in the fabric and design class learn to use problem-solving skills, she said, such as how to follow a pattern. Those in the parenting classes take a baby simulator home for three to five days to learn what it’s like to care for an infant.

“I tell students there’s nothing as realistic as a real child,” she said. “But the parenting simulators give students a chance to think about their choices and the time commitment required in caring for a child.”

In addition to teaching core life skills, Wilson also uses her program to educate students about the value of community service. For example, her students have done projects for the local Crisis Pregnancy Center and the Humane Society of York County. They have educated fellow students about the impact of teen drug use on families.

“It helps them with their life skills – it’s where core academics meets reality,” she said.

Wilson developed a program she calls “It’s Sew Easy to Help Others” to give her students the opportunity to give back.

Through the program, students have made drawstring health-kit bags for the Clover Area Assistance Center, hope pillows for children at the Ronald McDonald House and the York County Children’s Attention Home and hats, scarves and Christmas stockings, all donated through local agencies.

In addition, her fashion students make pillowcase dresses, which are sent to children in Third World countries through Dress Around the World.

She co-sponsors a student club, called Family, Career and Community Leaders of America, in which students participate in projects that include a “making dreams come true” prom dress drive for students who otherwise would not be able to attend prom.

Evening dresses are given first to students at Clover High and then offered to students at other schools in the county.

This past semester, she said, her students participated in a project called Changing the World Through Family and Consumer Science, in which they each chose an issue that affects American families and carried out three significant acts using their family and consumer science skills.

“I was overcome with the amount of ideas my students came up with and that did this stuff on their own,” she said.

Wilson said she works through her students “to make a difference in their families and communities.

“The content we cover affects their view of what healthy relationships are, and they share these new ideas with their families and friends.

“The skills they acquire can be used in the workforce, their family units and the community.”

Wilson will participate in professional development programs as part of the South Carolina Teacher Forum led by the Center for Educator Recruitment, Retention, and Advancement.

She will be competing to be selected the 2015 South Carolina Teacher of the Year.

Wilson was chosen for the district teacher honor by a panel of judges, including community representatives, from among the school-level teachers of the year, who were named last spring.

The school-level honorees are:

• Sandra Laird, first-grade teacher, Bethany Elementary School.

• Monica Roveri, media specialist, Bethel Elementary School.

• Mandy Combs, fifth-grade teacher, Blue Eagle Academy.

• Connie Carnes, SOAR teacher, Clover Middle School.

• Logan Cato, third-grade teacher, Crowders Creek Elementary.

• Samantha McCarter, second grade, Griggs Road Elementary School.

• Cathy Lowman, art teacher, Kinard Elementary School.

• Amy Brewer, special-education teacher, Larne Elementary School.

• Kathy Corbiere, media specialist, Oakridge Middle School.

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