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11-18-20 — Sewing Up a Storm to Help Others

Nov. 18, 2020 ~ Students in La Shana McGee’s Family and Consumer Sciences class at Mill Creek Campus are using their sewing skills to help the community. Their projects grew from the simple question “How can we affect change within our community?”

Last year, Mill Creek Campus students participated in a community service day that sparked interest in helping others across the city. One of the volunteer sites was the Olathe Animal Shelter where homeless dogs and cats enjoyed curling up with a small, cozy blanket.

Taking the class theme of “Be the Change,” McGee’s students came up with the idea to make blankets for the shelter.

“Studies show that students learn best when they are invested in a project,” McGee said. “Project-based learning is a great way to allow students the freedom to demonstrate their capabilities while working independently.”

Although COVID-19 put a stop to classes and sewing this past spring, “our students did not forget and had a strong desire to complete the mission. I was able to connect it to our curriculum and the project became a reality,” McGee said.

A lesson on family traditions taught students that customs help create family unity and provide a feeling of security.

“Family traditions do not need to be expensive or time-consuming, but they must be meaningful to the entire family,” McGee said. Her students began working together as a team/family to create a new tradition of giving to their loved ones as well as the community.

“Our projects vary. Some students decided to make blankets for the family pet, a pillow for a parent or guardian, or a custom T-shirt,” McGee said.

The idea for custom pillows came from a community patron whose father had died and the woman wondered if students could turn the man’s old shirts into a gift for his children.

“My students decided this would be a great way to connect with the community and bring joy to a family that has lost so much emotionally,” McGee said. “Emotions were high as the students watched her reaction to our sample pillow made from a shirt. After her approval, the students had the confidence to move forward and the willingness to open up and learn more about crafting.

“As a teacher it was amazing to watch them demonstrate the ability to work together as a team. They respectfully recognize each other’s weaknesses and praised each other’s strengths.”

The success of the custom pillows and pet blankets projects opened the door for McGee’s FACS students to do more unique projects in the future.

“The process was amazing and the journey was worth the planning,” McGee said. “If it were not for our administrators’ willingness to allow teachers to go beyond the classroom none of this would be possible.”