Episode 162: Reno Palombit, Melissa Webb, and Kristin Vest

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Episode 162 Kristin Vest Quote

Reno Palombit, CTE Workforce Development Specialist from North Carolina, Melissa Webb, Family and Consumer Sciences Consultant at the California Department of Education and FCCLA State Advisor, and Kristin Vest, Human Sciences and Education Career Field Specialist from the Nebraska Department of Education are all passionately helping recruit, support and retain future FCS educators of America as a part of the USDA grant project and national partnership.

How is the national partnership preparing people to become interested in teaching FCS? Well, when Melissa first joined, the efforts were focused on finding individuals at the state level who were interested in helping out with the teacher recruitment campaign. Melissa created a teacher task force which will be receiving funding this year to promote these efforts. Only two universities in California, one of them being Sacramento State Northridge University, offer the teacher pipeline program for students to get their credentials. The partnership is focused on working with post-secondary colleagues to make sure this mission is happening.

They’ve put together a promotional video to spotlight the campaign that hopefully will resonate with teachers, administrators and FCS students so they’ll start thinking about becoming future FCS educators.

Episode 162 Melissa Webb Quote

There are a lot of opportunities for college students to get involved with FCCLA by providing training or workshops, going to conferences and sharing with FCCLA members in high school about what college is like as a way of recruiting them into the FCS field.

For Reno, in college, observing and microteaching was really beneficial. What’s microteaching? It’s when a FCS student goes into the classroom to teach a 20-or-30 minute lesson on a specific topic and debriefs with the teacher to start building their teaching skills.

Reno also believes going to teacher conferences as a FCS college student is a great opportunity to start building a network, get connected to professional communities and hear about job opportunities. He’s seen future FCS educators have great success by taking an extra class or two at a local community college on the particular discipline they wanted to teach since studying FCS can be so wide – there’s interior design, childhood development, food, nutrition and so much more!

Another important, but not-so-fun part of the program is fiscal and policy compliance. Each state has their own rules and regulations that govern career and technical education and it’s a complex system with many different ‘buckets’ of money that each have their own regulations.

For example, the food and nutrition program at a school has a certain ‘bucket’ where funding for the groceries for a food lab comes from, which won’t come from federal money. But, let’s say a teacher wants to go to a conference to develop more skills, federal money might cover that. Managing these policies is important at a district level to make sure teachers have access to the equipment, supplies and knowledge they need to teach their curriculum.

Just like everyone else, the past year upped the occurrence of burnout and even though the public school system did an incredible job at thriving through the pandemic, many teachers may be close to burnout. In Reno’s office, although funds were limited, they sent teachers a tree with a thank you message on Teacher Appreciation Day.

“Some things we’ve done in our office to support teachers is just making them feel celebrated. In addition to all of the ways we support them at the state level and at the district level, it was important for us this year to celebrate them and show them how much we appreciate them.” – Reno Palombit (27:49-28:10)

One of the biggest things Kristin does at the Nebraska Department of Education is make herself available to listen to FCS teachers because many of them are a department of one. They don’t have other colleagues to bounce ideas off of, get an opinion or lean on for support when they’re struggling with something. It’s great to be able to provide teachers with solutions as well as give them a safe space to be heard and supported. In California, Melissa was a part of putting on virtual workshops and forums over the past year which gave teachers an opportunity to collaborate, network, learn best practices from one another and share resources with each other.

To help prevent burnout, Reno suggests creating a support network by connecting with professional organizations, and establishing personal boundaries. For example, when he was a teacher, he hated grading, so he didn’t take it home because he didn’t want to bring that into his home life, but lesson planning, something he loved, was a responsibility he would take home from time to time.

Also, don’t hang out in the teacher’s lounge too long! Make sure you’re surrounding yourself with positive people whether that’s in person with colleagues and other teachers, or on social media, and check in with yourself and how supported, enriched or uplifted you feel with the people you associate with.

How to get involved

  • Join The Produce Moms Group on Facebook and continue the discussion every week!
  • Reach out to us – we’d love to hear more about where you are in life and business! Find out more here.

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About Lori

Lori Taylor is the Founder & CEO of The Produce Moms. For ten years she sold fresh produce to over 300 grocery stores throughout the United States, and today she is fully focused on working with the produce supply chain, media, and government to increase fresh produce access & consumption in the US and around the globe. Connect with Lori on LinkedIn.

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