Julie Wheeler, principal lecturer in Family and Consumer Sciences Education at Utah State University, recently received the Utah Association Teachers of Family and Consumer Sciences Lifetime Achievement Award and the Utah Association for Career and Technical Education Lifetime Achievement Award.
These awards honor the contributions and distinguished accomplishments of association members whose career has advanced the work and purposes of the associations over an extended period of time.
Wheeler primarily teaches courses for students who will teach family and consumer sciences in middle and high schools, and in community settings. She has also taught many graduate courses on how to teach, and a creative arts class that had an enrollment of 750 students.
When asked what she’s learned over her years of teaching, Wheeler said, “The demographics of students change every year, what they look like, what they think, and how hard they are willing to work. However, at the root of it all, we are the same. We all need to be needed, heard and understood. Treating students with respect and listening to what they have to say always makes me a better teacher and teaches me important life skills.”
In a recent issue of the College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences’ alumni magazine, Wheeler said is no longer surprised when new acquaintances look puzzled if she tells them she teaches family and consumer sciences, so she usual clarifies by adding, “Home ec.” She is accustomed to people asking, “Do they still teach that stuff?” and responds with a question of her own: “Do you have a mortgage, wear clothes, eat, organize your home, and manage family relationships? Of course we still teach these skills!”
“Having worked with her for the last 10 years, I have not observed a more nurturing, collegial, professional than Julie,” said Rebecca Lawver, interim department head for USU’s School of Applied Sciences, Technology, and Education. “Her role has been focused on quality teaching in the family and consumer sciences teacher education program. She exemplifies qualities of an excellent teacher educator. She advocates for students, faculty, and the department, and is a masterful teacher.”
“These awards are important to me because they represent that people appreciate the work I do,” Wheeler said. “Although these awards were not sought after, it’s nice to have positive affirmation that what I’m doing is seen as important.”
Wheeler has taught at Utah State for 23 years, and she says that every day is different. The thing she enjoys most about teaching is the creativity that her job requires and learning from her students.
“Julie is the face of Utah State University for family and consumer sciences education throughout the state of Utah and incredibly deserving of this honor,” Lawver said.