Teacher of the Month: Karen Conklin

The month of May is known for its flowers, the color green, wind, sunshine, rain, and most important, Mother’s Day! I am pleased to announce this month’s Family Consumer Science Teacher of the Month is none other than my mother, Karen Conklin the inspiration of it all.

Karen Conklin has been a Family and Consumer Science teacher for 19 years and she is currently teaching middle school in central Connecticut. I had the distinct privileged of interviewing her while she was attending the Twist Craft Fair–a craft show she says is “an inspiring place to get ideas and keep up on the latest trends.” The craft fair’s vendors sell a variety of eco-friendly, sustainable, recycled, and trendy crafts and artwork. One of her favorite vendors, Athan Vennell, who makes bags out of recycled clothing, learned how to sew from taking home economics classes in school. It is these kinds of testimonies that keep all Family and Consumer Science teachers encouraged to keep making a difference. We also visited Lou’s Upcycles who sells place mats, bags, pouches, wallets, bibs, etc all made out of plastic wrappers from things like chip bags, potting soil bags, and dog food packaging. Inspired by Lou’s work and some YouTube clips on fusing plastic bags, Karen taught her students how to make similar zippered pouches after last year’s craft show. As a side note, Lou also runs a great blog on how to reduce your environmental impact.

Over the past few years Karen has been teaching her students to make environmentally friendly projects as she enjoys the challenge of coming up with something to make out of stuff we would all throw away. Some of the projects she has had her students make include CapriSun bags, chair and lampshade makeovers, fused plastic bag pouches, aprons and pillows made from second hand mens’ shirts, and a refashion project where students re-work three or four consignment items into a wearable garment. The most remarkable part about all these projects is that she is doing them with middle school students-inspiring them early!

Besides going to craft fairs Karen keeps up with the latest trends in the sewing/textile/interior design part of Family Consumer Sciences by visiting the book store often, reading Threads Magazine, and watching current fashion and accessory trends in stores. She also is an active member of her local quilt guild which allows her time to sew and getaway for quilting weekends. The hardest part of her job she says is “having time to put all my paper files back into my cabinet. I need a secretary!”

Congratulations to this month’s Eco-Friendly Teacher of the Month: Karen Conklin!



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