RHS: Sewing for Service
By Jennifer Ersalesi
Rutherford High School offers an elective course, Advanced Textiles, which has a very specific and defined curriculum. The students enrolled in this class must create projects that meet certain criteria. Mrs. Geraldine Howard, Advanced Textiles teacher, explained, "For example, when we discuss the fibers and fabrics students need to make projects that are made from woven natural fabrics and knitted fabrics."
Within the Advanced Textiles class, some students are able to follow a commercial pattern with ease, while others need to review. Mrs. Howard wanted to come up with a way to help students review in a fun and creative way.
Mrs. Howard explained, “Over the summer a woman posted on one of the many sewing/quilting facebook groups to which I belong that she was cleaning out her fabric stash by making these dresses for this organization called, Dress a Girl Around the World. I thought the dresses were so cute and that it was such a great idea. I realized I could get rid of all the fabrics I no longer need by participating in this project. Then the lightbulb went off. Wait! I can bring my fabric to school and my Advanced Textiles students can review using a commercial pattern to assist in this service project.”
Mrs. Howard created two different styles of dresses. She contacted the head of the organization and asked what she and her class needed to know to accomplish this task. Howard told TIR, “The first day of school arrived and I explained to the students what I wanted to do and everyone one was very excited. I showed them the samples and we reviewed pattern instructions. A few weeks later I had 8 dresses made by my class and two that I had made for a total of 10 dresses.”
The Dress a Girl Around the World organization sends dresses to whichever group is in need, which varies with current global situations. Although Mrs. Howard and her students do not know exactly where the dresses have been sent, they do know that an ambassador of the organization hand delivered the dresses to a particular country.
“The students enjoyed the project very much. They were able to combine a required learning task while also helping others. They were very excited when they finished their dresses. Some of them went around the building showing off the dresses to some of their favorite teachers.”