Runway, kitchen become classrooms

Published 12:59 am Wednesday, February 29, 2012

On the runway stage at Atlanta’s Apparel Market, from lef, are Casey McNeill, Kerry Knighten, Ms. Bell, Sarah Emily Barefoot, Morgan Jones, Kritin Evans, and Jamie Till.

Energetic – that’s how one might describe the atmosphere when walking into first-time teacher Delores Bell’s family and consumer sciences classroom at Andalusia High School.

Students in Bell’s three blocks of classes have been exposed to all sorts of outside-the-norm teaching tactics, including researching, eating and eventually making their own edible insects.

Students in her fashion class have also compiled a runway show integrating technology and art into the classroom.

“They’ve had to compose a runway show using Windows Media Player,” she said. “They have taken their team’s designs and created the show. They drew their own sketches. I wanted to show them how real designers do it.”

“We’re always busy in here doing all sorts of projects,” she said. “Recently, we went to Atlanta to the apparel and fashion market. We stayed the whole weekend and we met Tony Bowls.”

For the uninitiated, Bowls is an evening wear designer who designs for the Miss America and Miss USA pageants.

Next, Bell plans to give her fashion class the task of turning a 4-XL shirt into a fashion statement.

“They will get to sew them down and make it their own creation,” she said. “Then we’ll do hair and makeup and perform a fashion show for the whole high school.”

Bell, who came to Andalusia High School in January, said she wanted to “bring something new and exciting to school” and expose the students to other things besides textbook-based learning.

“Working with books is ‘old school,’” she said. “The world is technology-driven you have to go outside the box to keep students’ attention.”

For example, in her culinary arts class, ipads have been ordered and are incorporated for use in the kitchen.

“There are apps that are available for download that go step-by-step,” she said.

Bell graduated from New Brockton High School and went on to study family and consumer sciences at the University of Montevallo.

“I’ve always loved culinary,” she said. “I have written recipes for numerous magazines and I thought, ‘I might as well go to school for this.’ It’s different than teaching a subject class. You can teach the life skills kids needs, and with flexibility to adapt.”

“It’s an exciting new change working in a smaller school,” she said, after interning at larger schools. “It gives a chance for a lot of one-on-one instruction. I hope to accomplish more.

“Andalusia is a great school and I believe I made a good choice coming here,” she said. “Dr. (Daniel) Shakespeare has been great.”