Ochsner leaves PCS with dissolution of FCS program

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The recent elimination of the Family and Consumer Science program at Perkins County Schools has brought Cathy Ochsner’s 19-year history with the school to a close. 

Beginning her teaching career in 1979 in Kimball, Ochsner taught home economics for 12 years before moving to Ogallala in 1990. With no openings in her field, she subbed for 10 years before starting with Perkins County Schools in 2000. 

Previously known as home economics, the American Association of Family & Consumer Sciences, other organizations and programs changed the name of the field to family and consumer sciences in 1994 to more accurately reflect the complexity of the profession. 

As times have changed, so have the issues and needs of daily living. 

Ochsner believes technology has greatly contributed to these changes. The addition of one-to-one computers in the classroom has definitely changed the dynamics of education. 

“I think kids need to read books. I think they need to use books. Technology can be used as a tool,” she said. 

When starting in 1979, Ochsner said she could cover up to three times as much as she can now due to the original knowledge base of the students. Now, many students only have the knowledge of heating things in the microwave. They have to be taught to read a recipe, a skill that used to be commonly known. 

The program was reduced to part-time at PCS in 2005. With this, the junior high FCS classes were eliminated. Ochsner said she missed the opportunity to get to know the junior high students and expose them to the program and FCCLA. Something she feels was a large detriment in getting new students interested. 

Despite her sad and difficult departure, Ochsner holds many memories dear. 

While she has many great classroom memories, she said most of her memories lie in FCCLA. 

“The growth you see in them from the first time you have them in class, to watch them grow during the years, to see them blossom.”

She said FCCLA and FCS classes are the perfect place for shy kids to grow. 

“It’s a place for them to feel safe and comfortable. I sincerely think FCS classes are the only classes where you can really get to know your classmates.”

With the reality of the abrupt ending taking time to sink in, Ochsner spent the emotional days after school ended clearing her rooms.

Wanting to maintain contact with the kids, she plans to substitute teach. She’s looking forward to spending more time with her husband Jim and traveling. 

The Grant Tribune-Sentinel

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