Students in Julie Vorland’s Family and Consumer Science classes best not take for granted the type of practical education offered in her classroom. After all, this is a woman who had to fight to take her choice of vocational education back in her own high school days.
“When I was in high school, it was boys took shop and girls took home ec… until I was a junior, and then I decided that I wanted to take shop,” Vorland recalls with a chuckle. “I didn’t go to the school board, but I let the teacher know that I wanted to take shop… and then I pushed, and pushed and pushed.”
It’s probably no surprise to anyone who knows Vorland that officials in her Sioux Rapids School District relented and allowed this redheaded rebel to enroll in shop.
It turns out that Vorland loved shop and has used the skills she learned in woodworking many times in her own home over the years.
“I’ve been glad that I know those things,” she says.
And she also loved what was then called home ec. Vorland earned her bachelor’s degree in home economics from Iowa State University and came to Clear Lake to teach nearly 30 years ago. But she was coming out of college at a time when classes such as home ec and shop were getting cut, so she went back to school to get an endorsement in special education.
Vorland spent seven years as a Resource Room teacher before a home economics position opened up for her at Clear Lake Middle School. Sadly, shop classes didn’t fare as well.
“We don’t even have shop anymore, and I tell kids that I fought to take it,” she notes.
Today, her classes are known as Family and Consumer Science, and all students benefit.
Sixth graders learn about clothing selection and caring for clothes, and they also get to fire up a sewing machine and complete a project.
“A lot of times the boys are better sewers because they like running machines,” she explains.
Seventh graders learn about nutrition and hone their cooking skills on the new ranges installed as part of the middle school renovation project.
Eighth graders take the parenting class, which focuses on making good decisions.
To Vorland, she hopes Clear Lake students will always have a chance to take the classes she once fought to get to take.