FCS classes offer practical alternatives for students


Nadia Anthony wears the dress she made in class. Photo by Ari Bowman.

Caroline Schaffer, Former Deputy Features Editor

This previously ran in our February 2022 print issue. 

The Family Consumer Science (FCS) Department at Emmaus High School offers students a variety of enriching courses where they can gain experience and knowledge to take into their future.

With classes ranging from Child Development to Fashion Design to Creative Foods, the FCS department offers something for everyone. The courses are designed to educate and equip students with the necessary skills to transition from their youth into adulthood after high school.

Teaching Child Development 1, 2, and 3 and Designer Sewing/Fashion Design, Department Chair Heather Day finds teaching her students to be rewarding.

“I like the practical transfer of knowledge,” Day said. “All the classes I teach have skills anyone will use again.” 

After teaching special education for half of her career, Day became an FCS teacher when it was time for a change. 

“I love the tight knit community and empowering kids,” Day said. “[Teaching] high school is my whole life. I live my life in this room the way I want people to take [lessons] from me.”

Senior Sarah Sherman took Creative Foods last year while remote and is currently enrolled in International Foods for her last semester.

“I [am taking] International Foods because I wanted to learn about different cooking techniques from different places,” Sherman said. “I am most excited about getting to cook soon.”

Currently, the International Foods class is about to start their country project where each student is given a country to focus on and share with the class. 

“We all make presentations about one country,” Sherman said. “We are assigned a country and [then] have to present the project and make two in-class worksheet activities. Then I have to make a cookbook of the food [from my country].”

Despite the class being online as a remote student last year, Sherman enjoyed Creative Foods class from her kitchen. 

“I liked when I had Creative Foods at home because we could do different foods and whatever we wanted to make,” Sherman said. “We had [more] freedom.”

Alyssa Soupik, currently teaching Skills for Living and Creative Foods, initially had different plans for herself, after going to school to pursue her K-12 Art Education degree, a Master’s of Education, and a Master’s of School Counseling.

“Becoming an FCS teacher was not always part of the plan, but I like to think it was the path I was meant to take,” Soupik said. “One of the big topics in education, both then and now, was the lack of funding and what programs to cut. In many schools, art was unfortunately one of the first programs to go, and to ensure I would be a versatile hire, I obtained my certification in FCS.”

After working as an art teacher and later a program manager for at-risk youth programs, Soupik chose to stick with her passion for teaching, which led her to go for her master’s in education and school counseling, then interview at Emmaus.   

“I was told if hired, I would teach family and life balance, organization, color theory, design, sewing, nutrition, resume building, interview skills, etc.,” Soupik said. “I couldn’t believe how perfectly these courses were tailored to my prior experience and skill set. I immediately told my family I was supposed to have been teaching FCS all along.”

After being hired here in 2016, Soupik finally feels settled.

“I think FCS is an important subject,” Soupik said. “I laugh when I see memes [and] comments online stating things like ‘high schools need to teach adulting 101’ or ‘I learned the pythagorean theorem, but not how to do my taxes or iron a shirt’ and I think ‘but we do teach that and I wish more people knew it.’”

For Soupik, teaching comes with both rewards and challenges alike. 

“I would be lying if I said this job doesn’t come with its own set of challenges and some days are more rewarding than others,” Soupik said. “But ultimately, I think it comes down to this: there is nothing more rewarding in this occupation than watching students enjoy an activity you spent hours [or] days preparing. Witnessing students demonstrate a skill that you took the time to teach is so fulfilling, and there is nothing better than receiving a thank you email or having a student stop back to let you know that even years later, you still impact them daily. It is a constant reminder that what we do matters.”

Junior Nadia Anthony just completed the Designer Sewing/Fashion Design course with Day this past semester. 

“On both sides of my family my grandmothers are talented sewers,” Anthony said. “My grandmother on my mom’s side would sew everything they wore. My grandmother on my dad’s side [also] sewed everything. It inspired me because if they could do it, so could I.”

Despite this class being put into her schedule last minute, Anthony is thrilled that she ended up taking the class.

“Honestly, the class becomes a community thing,” Anthony said. “Ms. Day is the best. She is so sweet, and everybody [in the class] is helping each other out.”

Designing and sewing a dress for herself was the last and favorite thing Anthony had done in the class, though it came with some challenges along the way. 

“Certain aspects of sewing [were the most challenging],” Anthony said. “Not everything will cooperate with you. You have little kinks to work out [along the way and] it can get tedious.”

Looking back on her time in the FCS course, Anthony felt she was a part of something larger during her time in class. 

“The community aspect was the best part,” Anthony said. “Having the fall back was amazing. It was not like other classes.”

By providing a sense of inclusiveness, FCS classes at Emmaus offer lasting lessons that students can carry with them outside of the classroom.