By DELANIA TRIGG
Register Staff Writer
Gainesville family and consumer science teacher Charles “Charlie” Brown is not your parents’ home economics instructor.
Brown — a first year teacher who graduated from the University of North Texas last December — said he spent years in a business career before returning to college to fulfill his dream of becoming a teacher.
In addition to teaching fashion design, nutrition and child development, Brown said he hopes to help his students gain practical skills they can use for a life time.
“Our Principles of Human Services class focuses on careers,” he said. “Stuff we learn can be used in the home or in the work place.”
Brown also said he’d like to help students increase their self-esteem, teaching them to respect themselves and to treat others with kindness.
“We’re promoting self esteem in the school community,” Brown said. “The teenage years are some of the lowest for self esteem in a person’s life and it’s an area that needs to bolstered. Something as simple as a message on a poster or a smile means so much.”
Many of Brown’s students are taking part in a life lesson series Brown calls “Postive You.”
The series teaches students to develop different ways of measuring success and failure.
“We learn more from our failures than our successes,” Brown said. “Sometimes you can accidentally succeed.”
Brown said his classes are also directed toward improving communities.
“It probably sounds like a lofty goal but I’m looking to change society and help stop poverty and abuse,” he said. “We’re learning that if you are abused, you can raise your children better than you were raised. It’s a slow process but if you can change one person that sets off a chain reaction.”
Brown — who is raising 12-year-old daughter Hailey with his wife Catherine — said he’s dedicated to challenging stereotypes.
“I never cooked or did a load of laundry before I graduated from high school,” he said. “Now I do 99 percent of the cooking at my house.”
Brown said he never considered himself an arts and crafts person but now peruses sites such as Pinterest to find new projects and ideas for his students.
“I wasn’t really into art as a kid,” he said. “But I was always building things. I was very hands-on. I once remodeled a house even though I had no experience. I just decided to give it a try.”
Brown and his students recently embarked on a scarf making endeavor using looms made from salvaged wood, a few handsful of screws and scrap textiles.
The scarf project incorporated research and design methods, product manufacturing and marketing plan development.
“I have the students do projects that they would be able to use on a daily basis,” Brown noted. “ In the Fashion Design class, I am teaching the students how to open and market their own business. With this, the students need to know how to competitively price their items.”
He said it’s up to the students whether or not to sell their handwoven scarves.
“Students have already had offers from their peers to buy the scarves,” he said, adding, “I leave it up to the students. Doing this helps the students get into a business mindset.”
Brown said he’s thrilled to present his lessons in a large, comfortable class room which includes fully equiped kitchen stations, sewing machines and plenty of room for discussions.
He said he is especially excited about his principles of human service classes.
“We do a lot of career investigation,” he said.
Students also get to practice job interviewing.
“They find out what’s appropriate to say during an interview, how they should dress and how to deal with an interviewer’s questions,” he said. “This is very important for students because many of them don’t have any experience with job interviews.”
Brown said he centers his food and nutrition classes on healthy choices.
“In the past, classes have focused on preparing sweets like cakes and cookies,” he said. “We’ll make cakes and cookies but we won’t focus so much on sugary stuff. We’ll explore better nutrition options — we’ll substitute applesauce for the oil in a recipe or make cupcakes instead of whole cakes. (Portion control) is much easier that way.”
Brown said he’s glad he chose to make a career change and loves teaching at Gainesville High School.
“I get so much support from the administration,” Brown said. “It’s been great.”