At Solvay High School, Mary Kay Cole's Family and Consumer Science classes are a far cry from the "Home Ec" classes of the past.
Cole is new to the Solvay Union Free School district this year, but had taught at Red Creek and North Syracuse schools before taking a 10-year hiatus from teaching. She decided to return this year to education and is already deep into her Food and Nutrition and Housing classes.
Cole's classes cover a broad range of topics, from quick breads to sewing curtains to fitness. In one of her units, students studied the village and shared what they liked about it and what they wanted to see improved.
"It was very, very positive," Cole said of the students' discussion. Not being a Solvay native, Cole said she "didn't know there were so many churches, or parks, but the kids knew all of this, it was great."
Cole said she tries to spark an interest in students while making classes relevant to the job market.
"When I teach I kind of think, how many jobs are out there?" she said.
When it came to finding her own career path, she chose Solvay based on the atmosphere.
"The thing that attracted me, was the love of what people do - I see that here, in administration, big time," Cole said of Solvay. "You find few people loving what they do and I have to say I have met people that really truly are committed and love what they teach, what they do, how they serve the kids - I'm very impressed."
Principal Jay Tinklepaugh said Family and Consumer Science teachers are in high demand right now, and Solvay was able to land Cole, who had experience in two other districts.
"We're very fortunate," Tinklepaugh said.
A mother of four, Cole has two children in West Genesee High School and two in college - one attending SUNY Cortland, the other at Brockport. She lives with her husband in Camillus.