FCS Careers: Educator/Administrator, Head Start Program Leader
Persson-Gamble, Irène, Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences
After graduating with a B. A. in home economics secondary education from the University of Idaho, Irene returned to Alaska and did substitute teaching in the Anchorage School District. There were no permanent home economics teaching positions available so she looked took a position in equipment sales with Xerox Corporation. This position may have been perceived as unrelated to her educational experience, but she explained how her major was actually an excellent foundation for sales. One of the tenets of home economics is the value of wise use of time and resources and both are relevant for clients needing to know how Xerox® products could improve their businesses.
After a few months, a permanent teaching job became available at a career-focused high school. It was a new state-of-the-art school with several vocational specialties including courses under the heading Home Economics Related Occupations (HERO). Teaching fashion merchandising and retail, interior design, and textiles to junior and senior high students proved to be very enjoyable.
At age 30, she moved to Hawaii and a job at a Scandinavian furniture store where the work involved sales and some design projects for customers. A small private college in Honolulu provided an opportunity to teach interior design and art history. Hawaii was an exciting place to live, but it was not easy to make a good living; it took two jobs to earn the income of one job in Alaska.
In 1988, she attended the American Home Economics Association annual conference in Cincinnati and networked with colleagues from Alaska, one of whom was the state's Teacher of the Year and a national finalist. Irene became aware of a position with the Head Start program in Anchorage at this time. Though living in Hawaii was enjoyable, it was time to move back to Alaska for a new career opportunity and because of the man who has now been her husband for 21 years.
Irene describes the Head Start pre-school comprehensive family program as a perfect culmination of all the diverse, yet interrelated aspects, of family and consumer sciences (FCS). …