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Teacher provides directions for life

March 05, 2001

Teacher provides directions for life

By TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

Editor's Note: The Herald-Mail is featuring one middle-school teacher each month through May. The eight-part series highlights excellent educators on the first Monday of each month. Coming in April: Springfield Middle School.

There's more to Linda Nairn's family and consumer science class than just sewing and learning how to cook.

Students at Smithsburg Middle School enhance reading skills, learn how to follow directions and are taught a curriculum that will help them develop the knowledge and abilities necessary for the real world. And Nairn is the one responsible for making sure the students walk away with skills they can use throughout their life.

"The curriculum is broad. We teach all aspects of family life, food and nutrition, clothing and fabrics," she said. "We're emphasizing directions more and more."

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Students are instructed to follow the rules of a particular project step-by-step, which helps them understand what they read, she said.

Nairn, whose eighth-grade class is working on a quilted pillow, spends her time guiding each student on how to properly measure the fabric and put the pieces together. All of the students receive Nairn's individual attention.

"Would you say these edges look even?" Nairn asked a student who was getting ready to sew uneven pieces of fabric together.

"No," replied the student.

"I agree with you," Nairn said.

Another student, Andy Nesler, whose fabric has pictures of M&Ms on it, wanted to know whether his pieces were sized properly.

"Would you say this is more than one-fourth?" Andy asked.

"I'd say this is right on the money," Nairn assured him.

Next on Nairn's list was John Hershberger, who was wondering whether he should sew around the edges of his fabric.

"Don't start right on the very, very edge," Nairn instructed. "Start a little bit in from the edge."

At the end of class, Nairn praised the students for staying focused on the project.

"I think most kids like the curriculum," Nairn said. "I think they have more freedom here than in other classes."

Nairn has been teaching in Washington County for 27 years, 24 at Smithsburg Middle School. Before that, she taught at the former Cascade Elementary-Middle School.

She was born in West Virginia and majored in home economics in Shepherd College. While there, she met her husband, William, and ended up moving to Washington County. They have a daughter, Carrie, who is in her first year at Hagerstown Community College.

In her spare time, Nairn said she likes spending time with her family and using computers, which she also integrates into her classroom instruction, she said.

She's also the school's yearbook advisor, co-advisor of the student council, faculty representative to the Washington County Teachers Association, fund-raiser chairwoman for the school and has worked with Destination Imagination for the last 17 years.

The most important part of her lengthy list of duties as an educator is to see students mature over the years, she said.

"I like seeing students come in as timid, shy sixth graders and going out as somewhat confident eighth graders," Nairn said. "I like knowing that students have grown up a little bit while they were here."

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