Austin High Teacher Honored for Helping Students With Real Life Skills

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DECATUR, Ala. (WHNT) - Getting a good education isn't just about the basics of English, math, science and history.  A wide variety of elective courses makes a well-rounded student.

Students at Austin High School love their family consumer science teacher, Bethany Gonzalez.  Gonzalez has a hands-on approach to teaching hands-on skills.

Her classroom environment is for honing real world abilities, and the kids certainly stay busy.

"My students, some of them will be helping build a Habitat for Humanity house over their spring break," she said.

Gonzalez has been teaching family and consumer sciences for 14 years.  You may remember it as home economics, and she's known exactly what she wanted to do since middle school.

"I chose 'home ec' or family consumer science because it gave me the best of all worlds, because I love to do artistic things, like you can see my kids are sewing.

Hers is actually one of the biggest home economics programs in the state, with Gonzalez' classroom winning at least 20 awards each year - including honors for fashion and interior design, merchandising, digital story boarding and, of course, culinary skills.

A former student -- now on his way to a career in event planning -- nominated Gonzalez for our Tools for Teachers award.  We surprised her with $319 to use in the classroom, and she was humbled and happy to explain what that means to her.

"It's hard to believe sometimes, but I am so proud of them... I love seeing them do what they love, and getting paid for it and enjoying that," Gonzalez said.

Do you know a teacher or principal who is inspiring students?  Nominate them for our Tools for Teachers award.  They must teach in the public school system.