Home economics isn’t about sewing and cooking anymore, according to retired Buckeye Valley home economics teacher Cheryl Newell.
“There’s so much on nutrition, consumerism, shopping, bargain hunting and financial fitness,” said Newell who put in 31 years with the district.
Even though some might think the home economics field isn’t taught anymore, it is just simply known by a different name, family and consumer sciences. The subjects, although different from the ’60s, are still being taught in middle and high schools today.
With all girls home economics classes and all boys agriculture or wood shop classes in the past, today home economics has an even split between males and females, Newell said. Instead of learning sewing, students are taught how to look for quality in clothing when shopping and how to make repairs.
Men and women can go on to future training in the family and consumer sciences field at the Delaware Area Career Center, such as culinary arts or early childhood education. Both of those fields are also offered at Delaware’s Columbus State Community College campus.
Newell, along with nearly 50 other home economics and family and consumer science professionals, are members of a longtime group called the Delaware County Home Economics Club. They gather to discuss changes in the field, network with each other and enjoy each other’s company.
Delaware resident Dorothy Fuller, a home economics teacher in the ’50s and ’60s, has been a member of the group since it first formed.
“When we started, it was more of the working woman home economics,” Fuller said. “We were to keep up to date with what’s going on in home economics when we were away from the university.”
Home economics class was offered to all girls during a double class period when Fuller taught, she said. The boys took agriculture or shop class.
“One year, I taught every girl in the high school,” Fuller said.
Dee Allenspach, the group’s current president, worked as a home economics teacher for 30 years before going on to the Ohio Department of Education as director of secondary home economics programs across the state.
“The Delaware County Home Economics Club is a very different group,” Allenspach said. “A lot of members are retired home economists from Ohio State and Ohio Wesleyan or dietitians.”
The group is currently all women, but they don’t discriminate against any male members who might want to join. The club meets once a month from September through May. Membership dues are $10. Those interested in joining should be practicing or retired home economics or family consumer science professionals in Delaware County.
Members will gather in September at the Welcome Home Inn Bed and Breakfast for a formal tea and business meeting. Other programs set for the year include Ghost Towns of Delaware County; Hanby House Museum; Columbus State Community College, Delaware Campus; Humane Society of Delaware County; Powell Historical Society; Ohio State University Historic Clothing Collection; the Delaware Health Center; and the Gallant Farm Preserve.
A membership application can be obtained by contacting Allenspach by phone at 614-436-9358 or by email at deespach @msn.com