The Power of Ask With Melissa Litherland

Welcome to Connect FCS Ed. I’m so glad that you’re back, thank you so much for listening. I’m your host Barbara Scully and on today’s episode I have an amazing guest, Melissa Litherland. Melissa is a brand new first year family consumer sciences teacher. She actually has a master’s degree in Biological Science. She took 14 years off to raise her three amazing and beautiful kids, came back to subbing long term. And now she has a FCS position in her neighboring district of Wisconsin.

Melissa’s education includes a B.S. in Zoology and a M.S. in Biological Sciences (Neuroscience) from Eastern Illinois University. She loves how FCS naturally encompasses a lot of interests (food, baking, child development, science, learning, agriculture, basic life skills) and allows her to teach and prepare a future generation for the game called LIFE!


 •   I’m in the district with just one, I’m the only family consumer sciences teacher. And it’s a small district. Fall River High School has a middle school, high school and elementary. So we have, I think high school class sizes are about 40 total, also 120 high school students, so pretty small. My class sizes are about anywhere from eight to… I try to cap them at 16, just because we have four kitchens. With that, I have got a great administration that supports family consumer sciences, and they gave me a chance, I came in as a long-term sub and last year, so I was at eight weeks in before the state shut down and we had to go virtual, so I was literally learning on the fly. (2:22)

• That was a blessing with the covid break, is that we were able to actually be home, we didn’t have kids that had activities to go to, so we could plant and harvest and we whenever we wanted to, and that was a big blessing to be able to do that. But yeah, we have a 20 acre farm out in the middle of South Eastern Wisconsin, about an hour from Madison, hour from Milwaukee, and it’s a great little community to raise our children and nice to have the quiet with it. (4:31)

• I’m really interested in and bringing into all the culinary classes and teaching is the farm to table movement. The farm kids don’t know where their food comes from. They think it comes from the store. And so that’s what I’ve been really trying to just implement. I learned you can grow vegetables from kitchen scraps, that was one of my covid tips I learned. And so we currently, we have have carrots, turnips and lettuce growing in our classroom right now. (7:45)

• This is fantastic because it’s nice because I can do rotations like centers, we can actually get a lab for bread. I was almost in a panic. How am I going to do yeast with a 44-minute class period? It’s going to take an entire week to make one loaf of bread. But it’s been good, I really like it. The students, the biggest challenge is to not lecture for the whole time, because you lose them after about 30-40 minutes, so I try to keep that in mind, make it 30-minute lecture and then an hour of either we’re doing some type of project, or some type of in class, either they’re researching something like menus, or doing some articles or recipes. (16:31)

• What you’re demonstrating also is grace, when you are open, honest, transparent with your students saying, Hey, I don’t know how to do this, but I’m going to learn here right alongside with you. Can you help me as much as I’m going to be helping you? Holy cow, all of a sudden you have zero or you have a passive learner to 100% engagement. And that is something that I learned in my first year of teaching four years ago, stepping foot into sewing, sewing and textiles class. It was the blind leading the blind. But I was just open and honest with them, and they knew I was a first year teacher and man, they could have steam rolled me, they could have… It was a hard school, but they didn’t… They were like, Oh, she’s being honest. She has no idea what she’s doing. We don’t know what we’re doing. Hey, okay, let’s try and… Wow. Just from the whole class, not being enthusiastic about being in a sewing and textiles class to all of a sudden they’re like, we’re all helping each other. We have our own community. (37:46)


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December 23, 2020

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