JOHNSBURG - Working against cost cutting and strict state education regulation, local schools find themselves working hard to keep Home and Careers classes as a core part of their curriculums.
At the recent conference in Lake Placid Celebrating the 100th anniversary of Family and Consumer Sciences, field professionals acknowledged the struggles they face. Some teachers voiced a concern that many communities don't see the need for Home and Careers classes anymore - calling them useless or irrelevant.
Local teachers and administrators see the challenges that face the subject, but do not hesitate to exclaim its benefits.
"These are life-long skills," said Glenn Lang, technology teacher at Minerva Central School. "They are valuable and teach kids how to deal with real-life issues."
Lang teaches the lone Home and Careers class at Minerva Central School, offered to seventh grade students.
Johnsburg Central School boasts one of the strongest Home and Careers programs in the area, according to school officials. Lisa Provencher is a full-time teacher of Home and Careers and situations like hers are becoming more and more rare in modern schools. Many smaller programs use in-house teachers to teach Home and Careers instead of hiring a full-time instructor, much like Minerva does.
A change in times, however, has made this field more important than ever, according to many local teachers.
"Today, parents don't necessarily have the time to teach their children skills that were once taught at home," said Skip Hults, superintendent at Newcomb Central School. "These skills must now be taught in schools."
Contrary to what critics say, Home and Careers may even be more important now than it ever was. Family dinners may be a thing of the past and mothers no longer stay at home, but the skills are still relevant.
"Home and Careers is more important than it was 20 years ago," said Jeanette Harrington, Home and Careers teacher at Newcomb.
Newcomb offers a 10-week block schedule of Home and Careers classes to all elementary students and then makes electives available for high school students in areas of sewing, cooking, etiquette and others.
The consensus among local educators is that lack of popularity is not a problem when it comes to Home and Careers classes. Many who want to see Home and Careers disappear tout that contemporary students are no longer interested in the skills taught by subject.
Mary Jo Dickerson, superintendent at Long Lake and certified Home and Careers instructor, said there is no shortage of interest among Long Lake students. They offer Home and Careers at the middle school level only.
"My electives are the most requested in the school," said Robin Strand, Home and Careers teacher at Indian Lake Central School.
Indian Lake stresses the importance of the field and tries to do innovative and interesting things with it, according to David Snide, principal.
"These classes are what keep students motivated and interested in school," said Dickerson.
Gina Mitchell, an Indian Lake resident who attended both Minerva and Newcomb Central Schools maintains that the skills she learned in Home and Careers were some of the most useful she has acquired.
"I just hope it's around for my children," she said.
Despite the challenges ahead for Home and Careers and the professionals who have dedicated their lives to it, local schools and administrations seem willing to put up a fight on its behalf. They are optimistic about its future roll in local schools and communities.