ALACTE New Teacher Of The Year - Tammy McWilliams
It’s Not HOME EC Anymore!
Students need the lessons learned in Family and Consumer Science programs today more than ever. With the rising rate of students who are food insecure in our schools, it’s time to return to and teach the basics. Tammy McWilliams, the ALACTE New Teacher of the Year, understands this more than anyone. The word “New” is used loosely as Ms. McWilliams spent several years in the Talladega County School system in various capacities. When she entered the classroom, she entered with a wealth of knowledge about what students truly needed. Ms. McWilliams returned to college after she raised her two boys to fulfill her dream of teaching. To support herself she used her talents to cook and sell pre-prepared meals to friends and family. She also baked cakes and other goodies which she sold. Sadly today, not every young person has the opportunity to practice these skills in the home. Many high school students are from single family homes, heat their meals in a microwave, and often get themselves up and dressed for school without parental supervision. Nutrition has taken a back seat to cheap and convenient. Let’s face it, healthy food is expensive and a majority of the foods that can be afforded through government programs are not as healthy as we would like for them to be. Many of today’s young parents were raised in a microwave household and may lack the knowledge to teach their children about food and nutrition or how to grow, harvest, and prepare healthy meals at a fraction of the cost. Ms. McWilliams teaches Food, Wellness and Dietetics on the Childersburg High School campus to students from Childersburg, Comer, Fayetteville, and Winterboro. Students flock to her classes as she is not your typical teacher. She truly takes students from where they are and pushes them as far as they can go. Food Trucks are a new and exciting food choice in metropolitan areas and now they are new to Childersburg High School. Ms. McWilliams brought the food truck concept to her classroom last year and had her students compete in Food Truck Wars. A project she designed and led was surround by excitement from both students and competitors. The concept is “Reality Teaching”. Using entrepreneurial concepts, students developed a business plan, a marketing strategy, nutritious menus, and hit the market (school campus) and gained a reality check by seeing how competitive their products and pricing are in the Real World.Proceeds from the event went back into purchasing needed items for future projects and to support local charities. Ms. McWilliams plans to make this an annual Project Based Learning experience. Growing up, many of life’s greatest lessons can be learned at the dinner table. It is our responsibility to provide today’s generation with this valuable opportunity. Food brings family together both traditionally and non-traditionally but for some students, school provides this home atmosphere. Meals are how our parents taught us the skill of conversation, found out what was going on in our lives, and instilled wisdom in us even though they didn’t realize it at the time. If schools do not teach these skills through our new and improved “Home Economics” programs, who will? Talladega County’s Career and Technical Education is honored to celebrate its innovative programs across the county including Ms. McWilliams’ Food, Wellness and Dietetics program on the Childersburg campus, Mrs. Sweeney’s Early Child Development program on the Lincoln High campus and Mrs. Luckado’s Fashion Design program on the Munford High Campus. These teachers provide the foundation for a safe, clean, and enriched home life where nutritious meals can be served on any budget. They also teach the entrepreneurial spirit by demonstrating and teaching ways that students can be self-sufficient and provide for themselves and their families. God Bless the cook and the exceptional home values learned in Family and Consumer Science!
By: Kim Knight