Lessons learned lasting lifetime

December 2, 2018

For Fort Wayne Community Schools alumni Bonnie Smith and Bruce Lehman, the typing skills they learned in school became especially useful in their careers.

Smith credits typing for helping her secure an office job she held for nearly 30 years. Lehman used his Army typewriter for training reports when assigned to Fort Lewis, Washington, after Vietnam, and he continued using his typing skills professionally, including as an advertising copy writer.

Smith and Lehman were among more than a dozen readers who wrote in about useful skills they learned in school. Responses included etiquette; first aid; the importance of brushing your teeth; and how to create a weekly menu and food budget, balance a checkbook and complete a tax form.

Fort Wayne resident Kathy Turner found value in learning to coordinate her wardrobe around a couple of colors. It helped her make wise purchases that could be worn multiple ways and increase the number of outfits she had.

“It also kept me from buying clothing that didn’t have broad use or went out of style quickly,” wrote Turner, who attended Columbia City Joint High School.

Learning to sew in school helped Beverly Evans make clothing for her first job.

“At that time, you could make your own clothing cheaper than buying it,” wrote Evans, a Michigan resident who attends church in Fort Wayne. “Now, I guess, it’s the other way around, but you can’t express your own style and creativity.”

Retired FWCS music teacher and alumna Phyllis Mays Bush also wrote about learning to use a sewing machine, mend, hem and make garments.

“Do I sew now or make any clothing? No, but I could if I had to,” Bush wrote. “I hem my granddaughters’ clothing since my daughter only had nine weeks of home ec in middle school in the ’80s. They mostly sewed a small stuffed animal, I think.”

Brenda Willis of Fort Wayne asserted parents have a responsibility to teach cooking, sewing and financial skills.

“So many parents expect the public education system to teach our children the most basic things,” Willis wrote. ” ... I understand there is a chance many of today’s parents have no realization of basic things that used to be expected to be taught in the home. It’s time they are told, and maybe we can start a change in order to make it easier for teachers to get back to teaching the more complicated subjects.”

Smith noted that parents don’t always know the skills themselves.

“No one in my family was interested in sewing, so I wouldn’t know now if it hadn’t been for the school opportunity,” she wrote.

Bonnie Edgell, a retired West Noble High School educator, shared her experiences of teaching classes based on life skills and living. Her classes addressed canning, changing a flat tire, time management, recipe adjusting, entertaining small and large groups, mending, laundry, basic nutrition and, among other topics, children’s growth and development.

“I went beyond the basics and tried to give my students the opportunities to learn what they would need in life even if they didn’t see the need at the time,” she wrote.


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