Students Learn the Value of Serving Others Through FACS Classes
Jan. 7, 2021 - Back in elementary school, Kate Merriman was happy to drive to school with her mom, who helped with special education classes. However, sometimes the ride home was not so easy. It was her mom’s first opportunity to share some of the challenges she had faced that day.
“I thought I could never do what she does,” Kate remembers. “Now, it makes me want to do it even more.”
Kate is a senior at Smithson Valley (SVHS) now and already has eyes on her future. She wants to be a special ed teacher. Any hesitation or anxiety she may have developed from hearing her mom’s stories has disappeared thanks to the opportunities she’s had at school in Family and Community Services (FACS) classes.
For the last two years, Kate has been a part of the Human Services curriculum at SVHS. These courses are a part of Comal ISD’s Career and Technical Education (CTE) program. Students learn about careers in counseling, early childhood development, family and community services, education and training, nutrition and wellness, and the hospitality industry.
The “services” part of the industry shines the most in FACS. In these classes, students get the chance to organize and participate in a variety of community and school volunteer activities. FACS helps students build organizational and leadership skills. They mentor students in elementary and middle schools, visit senior citizen centers, and help with special education classes. They also organize an annual fall festival, coordinate the school’s S.P.U.D. (Students Performing Unselfish Deeds) Week activities, and offer helping hands to a long list of other activities throughout the year.
Kate has found fulfillment by supporting the activities of the school’s special education students and participating in service projects.
“This class helps me a lot,” she says. “I get an understanding of what the teachers go through, especially on their busy days. I want to be a teacher.
“This program is perfect if someone needs direction in their life. You get to see a different part of the school than what most people see. It can help you better understand other people.”
Passion with a Purpose
FACS students have to be highly committed, says Aubrie Herring, Smithson Valley’s FACS teacher and coordinator.
“I get to work with some of the best kids on campus,” Herring says. “They are very responsible and self-motivated.
“It’s a close-knit group of students we have. They are really passionate about hosting events. They all truly care about what we’re doing and want to make a positive difference.”
Many are involved in church or volunteer groups outside of school and work part time jobs. They all seem to have a heart for service, which will serve them well in the future as teachers, social workers, counselors, health and wellness experts, occupational therapists and more.
“I’m trying to coach these kids to follow what they are passionate about,” Herring says. “They may not have the desire to go into a human service career. This can be a great learning experience for them anyway. They are learning compassion, humility and service to others through all of the things they do on campus.”