Fatima Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS) teacher Erica Libbert, who also is the advisor for the school’s Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) chapter, earned an Advisor in …
Fatima Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS) teacher Erica Libbert, who also is the advisor for the school’s Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) chapter, earned an Advisor in Excellence Award from the state organization at the conclusion of the 2019-20 school year.
Because of COVID-19, the conference scheduled earlier this year was held virtually, and Libbert only recently received her award, but it was well worth the wait.
“It is very moving and humbling to receive this recognition,” said Libbert, who won the award in the 2011-12 school year as well. “Students are busy enough, but the fact they took time to think about it, and actually follow through with the very long nomination process is awesome.”
Leading the nomination effort was Bridgette Veit, a senior this year. “Mrs. Libbert embodies all an FCCLA advisor should be through her compassion, kindness, and positive attitude,” Veit wrote. “She dedicates all her spare time to FCCLA and fulfilling its mission and goals through her actions in the classroom and out. She is always willing to help any student or member with any problem they may be facing. She will always listen to a student's concerns and I have never met a student who did not like her. Mrs. Libbert is constantly going above and beyond her duty as an adviser. Every single student that has a class with her leaves her class in a positive mood and always feels refreshed and empowered. I, as president, truly feel like I have not only an adviser, but also a friend. She is very positive and confident in the organization's future, and is very excited about the year. Since she does not do everything for us, her officers are also learning skills that they will find useful in everyday life, like making personal phone calls, writing emails and letters to community organizations, and especially will benefit our public speaking abilities.”
Libbert taught FACS and was the FCCLA advisor at Linn R-2 for six years before moving to Fatima, where she has held those roles for the last 12 years.
“We have a very active chapter,” said Libbert. “Even with COVID, we try to give back as much to the community as we can, which encourages more students to join and participate.”
FCCLA members publish monthly articles in the newspaper, keep members informed with a GroupMe application, and in order to collect donations for the 5K, members asked local businesses to donate. The chapter is planning its second annual trunk or treat in a collaboration with the other clubs and organizations within the school to make this event successful. Fatima members also plan to work with the local nursing homes, hospitals, and children's organizations within the area.
The chapter earned first place in the state for its “Stop the Violence” project in which FCCLA members worked with second-grade students, planted flowers in their classroom and then showed them what happens when some plants are taken care of and others are ignored.
“The purpose was for them to see what it's like to be ignored and how they should be welcoming to their peers,” said Libbert.
Another community service project included making fidget blankets for special needs-children and Alzheimer’s patients.
Students also worked with the kindergarten classes at Fatima on bus safety and earned second place in state through Families Acting for Community Traffic Safety (FACTS).
Students participated in a social media shut-down challenge to work on improving their mental health.
Additional Service Projects completed last year included a Halloween Trunk or Treat event, and chapter members made chicken pot pies for the Good Shepherd Food Pantry, adopted a family at Christmas, caroling at the Westphalia Hills Nursing Home, a blanket drive, cookie grams at Valentines Day (all proceeds donated the the American Heart Association), and smoothies for teacher appreciation.
This year so far, Fatima FCCLA are participating in Box of Joy (filling shoes boxes with goods to go to Children in Africa for Christmas), virtual story-time program for preschool and elementary students, letters to veterans, and planting succulents and delivering the potted plants to the nursing home.
“We are able to do most of these in a way to still maintain social distance but be impactful in our school, community, and world,” said Libbert, noting the chapter is also completing several national programs again this year.
Fatima also has a Lifesmarts team that has competed in the state Lifesmarts competition for the past six years. There are two branches of Lifesmarts — one is a more direct route to get to nationals by completing a larger variety of team competitions.
Fatima FCCLA goes the basic route, which means the team has to qualify for the state competition by having students compete individually online and their scores help the team qualify for the in-person state competition. The top 40 teams in the state are invited to the in-person competition, and Fatima has made the cut the last six years.
“We are currently hard at work with our FCCLA members to compete individually in order to qualify again this year,” said Libbert, noting that last year Fatima took third in the state. “We have our top five individual qualifiers on our team. My entire team is returning this year so I have pretty high hopes that we'll qualify again this year, and maybe even get the win.”
When Libbert was awarded the first time, Fatima had 60-70 members in FCCLA, and now there are more than 100. With a maximum of 14 officers allowed, Fatima in the past had as many as six, but now have all 14 positions filled.
“Our student officers are very responsible with their positions,” said Libbert. “Maintaining and increasing our membership numbers and our investment in the community are very important.”
This year’s officers are President Bridgette Veit, Vice President Emma Luebbering, Secretary Claire Koenigsfeld, Treasurer Abby Gentges, Reporter Amber Berhorst, Historian Leah Groene, Recreational Leader Thomas Libbert, Devotional Leader Meaghan Frank, STAR Event Representative Jenna Hale, Student Council Representative Rachel Temmen, Community Service Representative Eliana Steinman, Membership Representative Erin Fick, Parliamentarian Sydney Falter, and Social Media Representative Ella Winkelman.
Fatima’s FCCLA chapter also has a lot of support from Assistant Principal Mitch Gier, who earned FCCLA Administrator of the Year honors from the state organization. His nomination was forwarded to the national level as well.
“The kids thought I deserved it, and to me, that’s very rewarding,” said Gier. “Supporting them is why I’m in this business.”
In preparing his nomination, Veit wrote, “Mr. Gier supports the Family and Consumer Sciences program by continually checking into the classroom to see what students are working on. He loves to see student success and all of the accomplishments students make in the FCS program. He checks in during lab days and all of the various activities that are done within the FCS classroom and encourages students. His support shows his belief in the benefits of a well-designed FCS program.”
Gier began driving the FCCLA group to various functions and then was asked to help judge competitions.
“I did a few extra things, but the real star is Erica; she makes the program work,” said Gier. “She does such a great job with these kids every year and is always coming up with new ideas. FCCLA really provides them an opportunity to show off their talents.”
Interviewing and public-speaking are two competitions that put students to the test. “It’s not easy for kids to get up and speak and learning these skills will provide them a benefit for their entire lives,” Gier said.
Membership in FCCLA is recommended for FACS students but not required.
“It makes sense because students do a lot in the classroom that is closely related to FCCLA,” said Libbert.
During her time, many things have changed in the classroom.
“One of our biggest areas of focus is child development, but we also have sequences in which classes build on one another,” said Libbert.
Industry-recognized credentials (IRCs) are obtained by students and can be used to help with entry-level positions in a field that doesn’t require a degree such as childcare.
“A lot of students go into a career related to the IRC,” said Libbert. “For those pursuing something in a children’s field, such as child therapy or teaching, get hands-on experience here at the school.”
Child Development students work with preschool students at Fatima, for example. “It’s the highlight of the year for them,” said Libbert.
Fatima also offers a design sequence, with basics, followed by fashion and interior design.
“Seven years ago students asked for the design sequence and it was approved,” said Libbert.
Follow the chapter on Instagram: fatima_comets_fccla.