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New Family & Consumer Science Teacher at Highlands

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- Kathy Nissinoff, a new family and consumer science teacher at Highlands Middle School , said she aims to empower her seventh grade students with the basics of how to navigate the 21st century.

"The family structure has changed so much that everyone really needs more skills than when there were two family members at home most of the time," said Nissinoff, who will teach every seventh grader at Highlands this year. "Good educators make everything relevant to every day life, so family and consumer science is perfect. We hopefully empower students to make good decision in their family lives and careers."

Nissinoff, a Mamaroneck resident, was inspired to tranistion her career as a nutrition professor at Columbia University's medical school into the non-collegiate realm because she wanted to be one of those instructors who stood out.

"I wanted to make a difference in kids' lives. We all remember our good teachers," said Nissinoff, who has one child in middle school and another in high school. "I think I've always taught because I'm a mother."

Highlands' units on communication and leadership skills, resource management, and nutrition will be tailored to reflect trends, according to Nissinoff. Instead of learning to sew outfits, students will study specific skills, such as adding buttons to clothing. Students will be asked to weigh the cost to calories benefits of various food items, such as a bag of potato chips or baked potato.

"Nutrition is so relevant and the kids love it because they eat every day or they food shop with their parents," said Nissinoff. "Financial management is really important too. I plan to do a big identity fraud lesson. Kids are so computer savvy these days and they need to be aware."

Nissinoff, who previously taught high schoolers in Yorktown Heights, said the diversity and chance to work with middle schoolers attracted her to the district.

"There's something magical about this age. They're right on the cusp. They know enough to follow along and learn life lessons, but they still are looking for some guidance," she said.

Have you met Kathy Nissinoff yet? What's the best skill you picked up in family and consumer science/home economics? Join the conversation below.

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