Lori Henry, Spring Lake Park High School teacher of Family & Consumer Sciences has been named the American Association of Family & Consumer Sciences 2021 Teacher of the Year. The national award recognizes her work to help students develop real-world skills on their path to career and life success.
Lori Henry got the surprise of her 28-year teaching career on Friday, April 30. Principal Matthew Boucher stood in her classroom doorway with flowers, balloons and cupcakes to deliver the news. Lori, a Family and Consumer Sciences teacher at Spring Lake High School had just been named the American Association of Family & Consumer Sciences 2021 Teacher of the Year.
“I was totally surprised. I had no inkling,” says Lori. “It completely caught me off guard and it’s a huge honor to represent Family and Consumer Sciences.”
Skillet skills and so much more
Lori has taught at Spring Lake Park High school since 1993. The main focus of the Family and Consumer Sciences curriculum has been course offerings in Culinary Arts and Early Childhood. The learning in Lori’s classroom is about skills with a skillet and so much more.
“We learn about cooking and baking, and we also learn the skills of teamwork, communication, time management, critical thinking, acceptance of others and service. These are the skills employers and communities need,” says Lori. “I get to experience the growth of each student and their development into leaders in their homes, school and community.”
Through experiences in and out of the classroom, students learn and make connections between academics, service learning and career preparation. Guest speakers, like restaurant chefs, Food Network participants and community leaders, connect student learning to the real world. Service learning projects, like collecting socks for veterans or food for families, help students identify and meet community needs.
“While accolades are great,” says Matthew Boucher, high school principal, “what I appreciate most is that Lori develops true servant leaders who consistently strive to ensure the work they do contributes to others wellbeing or growth.”
Lori’s students come from diverse backgrounds and she’s found creative ways for students to get know and appreciate each other. She asks them to “Give Me Three” – share 3 words that describe you, 3 things you like to do and 3 foods that are traditional to your culture. The activity aids collaboration and communication among partners and helps each gain new perspectives and create better products.
“My goal as a Family and Consumer Sciences teacher is to have all my students, no matter what obstacles are in their way to believe in themselves and pursue their dreams,” says Lori. “I’ve learned the importance of making connections, being a good listener, a mentor, a community leader and a coach.”
Beyond the classroom
Lori has not only excelled in the classroom but also in leading the local chapter of the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America. Her involvement at the local, state and national level has led to large participation and a long list – each year – of student awards and achievements.
In her letter nominating Lori for this national award, Lois Lewis, president of the Minnesota Association of Family & Consumer Sciences wrote that Lori “has created a lasting impression of how a Family & Consumer Sciences curriculum taught by a caring and supportive teacher can empower lives and develop character and leadership.”
Lori will officially receive her award during the American Association of Family & Consumer Sciences’ national conference in June. From there, she anticipates being a strong voice for Family and Consumer Sciences and the life skills she teaches that help students prepare for successful careers and lives.