Preparing For Life

Biddeford TA Member Named Consumer Science of the Year

Practical skills for daily life are the focus of Vicki Lee’s Family and Consumer Sciences classes at Biddeford Middle School. The Biddeford Unified Arts classes have been so popular with students that enrollment was full during the previous school year. On top of Family and Consumer Science, Lee took on the task of offering Health class as well, and now due to her determination and creativity, Lee has been named the 2021 Family and Consumer Sciences Teacher of the Year by the Maine Association of Family and Consumer Sciences.

“I was surprised to receive the award. We had a school-wide Zoom meeting during lunch, and it was great to have the reaction of students who reached out to me after the ceremony to congratulate me. The recognition from my peers is wonderful, but the reaction from students was priceless,” said Lee.

“Vicki rose to the challenge and has made coming to this new school an easy transition and a positive experience.”

Lee hasn’t been able to teach in her food/kitchen and sewing lab this year due to COVID-19. Having students sharing food and in close contact wasn’t considered safe, so Lee has taught Health for the full year, adapting with grace.

“She loves teaching and it shows in all her projects and adventures. She has a way of making you feel you were a kid again in her class,” said Patricia, a colleague.

With the shift this year, Lee focused on Nutrition, and encouraging students to look forward to eating healthy foods but admits both she and her students are looking forward to getting back into those labs. “Many of this year’s 8th graders have been my students for three years, and we talk about “remember when we made French toast.””
Still, Lee manages to engage her middle schoolers, keeping her website active for them to look at recipes, including healthy smoothies and oven roasted vegetables. ‘She engages our kids through hands on relevant learning cooking and baking, and through that- making healthy choices. She maintains a positive attitude, and cares about every one of our kids,” said Elizabeth a colleague.

“She loves teaching and it shows in all her projects and adventures. she has a way of making you feel you were a kid again in her class.”

The Association of Family and Consumer Sciences noted Vicki’s work in advancing the field and helping students realize the real-life skills they are learning, which extend into the community as well.

“I think it is so important to teach middle school kids “life” skills. In addition to cooking and basic sewing skills, I also teach a unit on Financial Literacy in 8th grade, both in FCS and Health. Learning to budget and make good financial choices are lessons that many adults seek out. Having that basic information is important to have before even getting the first paycheck! So many adults have told me how much they wish that schools had “home economics” and “shop” classes still and are happy to hear that some districts still have these types of programs,” added Lee.

Lee is continually working to educate herself so she can be a better teacher. She recently completed the Master Food Preserver and Master Gardeners certification through the University of Maine Cooperative Extension and is incorporating lessons from those programs into her curriculum at school: food safety, gardening and using fresh, local ingredients when preparing food.

Lee came into teacher after 25 years as an office manager in the private sector and academia. She’s proof education is a life-long journey, and her journey is changing the lives of students, and making them more prepared to be adults, finding joy when she hears a student say: “I still have the pillow we made in 6th grade.”