By April Clark Honaker
When Annie Jones was in seventh grade, she told her family and consumer science teacher that she wanted her job one day. Her dream became reality in January 2006, when that teacher, Randy Parnell, called Jones to announce her retirement.
Jones had attended Simsboro High School from elementary through high school and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree from Louisiana Tech University in secondary family and consumer science education.
When Parnell called Jones to inform her of the opening in Simsboro, Jones was teaching family and consumer sciences at Choudrant High School, but she was eager to return to her alma mater and teach at a school where her family also had connections. Her dad was a bus driver at Simsboro High School, and her mom was a substitute teacher there.
Given the personal and family connection, Jones said she was grateful for the opportunity to return there and fulfill her seventh grade dream.
She said family and consumer science is all about life skills, such as nutrition, cooking, financial management, career development, CPR, and first aid. According to Jones, a lot of schools are no longer offering family and consumer science classes primarily due to lack of funding. However, Jones said these classes are also not valued as highly as others because of the way graduation programs are structured.
“I’m honored to teach in Lincoln Parish where we still have it,” she said. “I feel Lincoln Parish does value students learning life skills.”
Jones believes these skills continue to be important. “One of the problems in our society today is that we have adults without life skills,” she said, “and not due to any fault of their own. I don’t believe they were given the opportunity to learn these life skills.”
Of all the life skills Jones teaches, nutrition and cooking are her favorite because the students seem to enjoy getting into the foods lab the most. Jones said she tries to emphasize that the foods lab is like a science lab, and she introduces the students to a wide range of skills and recipes, but she said the students enjoy Mardi Gras season best.
“We make these little, quick king cakes,” she said, “and the students learn how to make them and can go home and impress their families.”
Jones said it makes her feel important and like the skills she teaches are valuable when form students say to her, “‘I just want you to know that I use the things I learned in your class more than I do anything else I learned in school.”