They say you should leave on a high note and Exeter-Milligan Family Consumer Science teacher Mary Lou Vossler has opted to retire just as she was recently awarded the FCCLA (Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America) Distinguished Service Award. She emphasized, “It's quite an honor to be nominated and receive the award.”
Vossler started as a long term substitute at the Milligan school for the Home Ec teacher before being hired as the part time teacher. Prior to this she filled her days substituting, doing alterations, and working at the locker in Milligan.
When Exeter and Milligan consolidated in 2001 Vossler became the fulltime Family and Consumer Science teacher in Exeter. She became the FCCLA (formerly the Future Homemakers of America) adviser 20 years ago in 2003.
She has also “served as District #4 FCCLA Adviser and District #4 STAR Coordinator. As District Adviser, the main responsibility is to lead the FCCLA Advisers, Chapter members, and District Officers. District Adviser is responsible for planning the District Leadership Conference for the entire conference, coordinating with advisers and CCC staff, securing keynote speakers, creating conference schedules and session descriptions, working with District Officers, and leading an officer installation at District Leadership Conference. As District #4 STAR Coordinator, I was responsible for physically setting up the competition area, securing judges, creating schedules once registration was submitted, having judges' rubrics and specification sheets ready, ordering medals for participants, communicating with participants and advisers, submitting results to State FCCLA Dept., and serving as a room consultant at State Leadership Conference.”
Through those experiences in FCCLA she noted some of the highlights including having a student, Caitlin Murphy, serve as a State FCCLA Officer. Other outstanding moments she experienced included “serving on the FCCLA Board of Directors, having members gain an understanding of the importance of community service projects, STAR participants at District, State, and National Levels, attending National Leadership Conferences seven times, being honored at the National Leadership Conference with the Nebraska FCCLA Spirit of Advising Award, Nebraska FCCLA Adviser Distinguished Service Award and Nebraska Association of Family and Consumer Sciences with the Teacher of the Year Award.”
Many larger districts have eliminated family and consumer science courses but Vossler lauded their benefits as they “allow students the opportunity to gain skills in life management, employability skills, gain an understanding of self and relationships, child development skills, an understanding of human sexuality, foods, and nutrition, decision making, and conflict resolution.”
In the classroom Vossler has enjoyed “having the ‘Reality Babies’ in child development classes, seeing the kids explore possible careers they might be interested in the future, and gaining professional grade small appliances through Carl Perkins funding.”
She has enjoyed teaching her students the male/female reproductive system along with the baking section where students learn to make kolaches, naan and cinnamon rolls.
Some of the most important things she has taught her students is that “they are ‘enough,’ to step outside their comfort zone and try new things, the respect shown lets you get respect back, the importance of honesty, cherish your parents, and understand that parenting is one of the toughest, most rewarding jobs, the importance of communication, FCS provides skills that will be used throughout their young to old adult years, and it is better to give than receive.”
Superintendent Paul Sheffield reminisced about the indelible mark that Vossler has left on both of the communities and her students over the years, “She has brought her own ray of sunshine to help make everyone’s day a little brighter and a little better. Her service and dedication to the E-M community has been overwhelming and we hope she always remembers where she came from and also realize she will ALWAYS be a part of the pack! For those who have had Mary Lou over the years, the "12 Days of Christmas" song will never be the same.”
Vossler plans to spend as much time as possible with her family during her retirement as she is a two time cancer survivor. She also feels the burden of having recently lost multiple families members. “I just want to take time to do things with my husband, kids, grandsons, and family members. I want to sew more, which I haven't had a chance to do, and use the time to catch up on some landscaping projects, watch my grandsons more, travel, and substitute teach at EM. I'm excited to start the day with new projects, not having as many deadlines and still being involved in NAFCS, FCSTN, and Delta Kappa Gamma (professional organizations) and church activities. I am also looking forward to being an FCCLA STAR judge at State and possibly taking in judging at Nationals which will allow me to travel.”