The patrons and staff of Countryside Christian School realized that, as the culture around them changed and their own children attended school longer, they owed their girls an expanded home economics course. Cherlyn Weber was part of the committee that oversaw that expansion. In this video, she talks about the goal of the program: to equip girls with the confidence they need to make their home a haven.
Cherlyn and Sharon Martin, the school’s home-ec coordinator, explain how the program is structured, how they work with community women to staff the home-ec program, and the benefits the school enjoys from this exchange.
Cherlyn: As Christians, we really value the home. It’s foundational for personal growth, church strength, community well-being. We felt that with the deterioration of homes in general around us, that God was pushing us to be more intentional about teaching some of the physical and spiritual fundamentals of building solid Christian homes. Home economics has actually been a part of our curriculum for as long as I can remember. It was like eight weeks long in the middle of winter. I remember it was rotating between cooking and sewing.
Eventually, the public school started offering more hands-on programs to the students. We started evaluating what we had to offer them also. We also were aware that a lot of students were staying in school longer as they finished their high school. There was less time at home for them to be learning what they needed to know. I love that the entire curriculum has been thought through and sketched out over the two, three years that the girls are in it. It gives them a broad range of skills and knowledge. We do a year one, year two, and then a year three elective.
Sharon: We have been working at offering a level three course once every three years. So the ladies in grade 10 through 12 will all have an opportunity take it at least once. It’s basically six units of study, canning and preserving, sewing, child care and development, cake decorating, and horticulture.
Cherlyn: And then there are some random days popped in for fun things like photography or crafts or something like that.
Sharon: Each unit has its own instructor. It’s someone from the community who’s passionate and skilled in that area.
Cherlyn: It’s Friday afternoon for two hours. The units vary from a day to three months actually. I’m really excited that our girls get to learn how to sew. Learning how to sew is a huge key in modesty, just making our own clothes or modifying what we purchase. To be able to send our girls out the door with that tool in hand is a really great experience for them. My favorite lesson I would have to say is the day that they plan, prepare, and serve a hot lunch for the whole school.
The girls learned so much that day, just thinking through a menu that’s nutritious and economical, and something that can be in proportions for a kindergarten student to a grade 12 student. They also learned how to organize an event and send out order sheets ahead of time. And the students fill out what they want. They manage finances and figure out, “What’s this meal going to cost? Does the kindergarten pay the same as the grade 12?” and then collecting the money.
When it comes to preparing the food, they have to think through, “What can be made ahead of time? Maybe freezing ahead, or making the day before. What has to be made the day of? How are we going to serve it?” It’s the highlight for everybody, actually. As far as teaching it, there’s a teacher from school here that’s designated to spearhead the whole thing.
Sharon: Bringing in six different instructors doesn’t give you that continuity with the girls, and also with grading and so on. My role as coordinator is to keep the morale up within the class, keep the spirits up. Also, I do the grading of the projects.
Cherlyn: Moms and women from the church, and the churches that we are affiliated with that send their students here, are invited to come in and teach a unit at a time. This has just been great because they develop passion for the work of the school because they’re involved as parents. I also see a development of relationship between the students and these ladies that come in, and respect and appreciation. It’s just a fantastic way for our school to integrate Titus two, where the older women are teaching the younger women.
Sharon: The ladies that are coming in, the instructors help them design types of projects that will work.
Cherlyn: Its been fun too to see some ladies come in that would have never thought of themselves as teachers. They come in, and they’re good at something, and they teach a class of girls. They do an awesome job and they love it too. I love that part of it. Many things about homemaking, I might never teach my daughter. But because we have such a wide cross section of teachers and units, I feel like she’s getting a rich teaching on home skills and homemaking. We both realized through this home economics course that this is where her passion is and this is where her giftings lie.
And when she’s done with high school, she needs to pursue something along a home economics course. That’s been really great for us both to tune into already. She’s in grade 9. Nothing compares to the glow on her face when she comes home with something she’s made at home economics. If you’re not a mother and you don’t have children in your home, your home is probably still a haven to somebody. For yourself, but also for those that come and go, and maybe you live with somebody.
There are a lot of things that I think that our homes, as Christian homes, should offer to the world around us and the people coming and going. There’s a great benefit to learning some of the stuff, and then extending and making your home like an outreach to the world around you. Because if they’re confident with what they can do at home and what they’ve learned, I just think hospitality has a whole new dimension with serving and serving God through our homes.
Stock footage courtesy of Videvo and Beachfront B-Roll.
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CONTRIBUTOR: Cherlyn Weber
CONTRIBUTOR: Sharon Martin
- Preparing Students to Serve: Why We Have Co-op
- A Different Type of Learning Environment: How We Set Up Our Co-op Program
- At School at Work: How to Make the Most out of Co-op
- Hospitality Takes on a New Dimension: Our Home-Ec Program
- What Do We Want High School to Be? Shop Class at Countryside, Part One
- Equipping Today's Student: Shop Class at Countryside, Part Two
- Priorities for High School: Making Electives Manageable