Cecil Johnson launches MLMS consumer science

Submitted to Dorchester Banner/MLMS, Cecil Johnson
Christian Thomas-McNamara, FACS student, made this taco dip at home, and brought it into class for his teachers.

CAMBRIDGE — Mace’s Lane Middle School has reached into the past and stirred up a new class, one that has generated much support and enthusiasm among students, parents and community members. Family and Consumer Sciences (FACS) — similar to the ‘Home Economics’ of previous years — is being taught by Cecil Johnson, who owns Cambridge Spice Co. and has years of experience in local schools as a substitute.

Though FACS, or home ec, was taught at Cambridge-South Dorchester High School years ago, “It’s never been taught at this school,” Mr. Johnson said.

Plans were set for the class, until a couple days before school started in August, when the original teacher had to be reassigned. That meant Mr. Johnson got the call, and he stepped up to the challenge.

“They gave me the opportunity to create the curriculum,” he said, noting that it is based on cooking and food safety. But that’s not all it is.
Sitting at a desk in his room, Mr. Johnson said, “A lot of kids, their parents are working two or three jobs.” So they need to know how to feed themselves, but their teacher doesn’t leave it at that.

He includes budgeting, for instance — if a package feeds 5 people and 50 will be at dinner, how many packages are needed; how much will that cost; and will that expense leave the family enough money to pay other bills?

It’s practical knowledge that applies to everyday life, and has some tasty results.

Christian Thomas-McNamara, one of Mr. Johnson’s students, created a dish at home and brought it to school. His taco dip was quite well received, by his teacher and many who saw a photo of the colorful creation.

“Thomas learned how to manage frying meat in oil and how to write and execute his own recipe,” Mr. Johnson wrote on social media. “I am very proud of his accomplishments.”

Nikki Wenzinger responded, “Looks great! Thanks for bringing back such a practical course.”

Fellow teachers and community members have gone out of their way to sell at bargain prices or donate equipment to the class, as they recognize its value.

“Everyone in the school has been really supportive,” Mr. Johnson said. “I’ve had people say, ‘We’re praying for you.’”

With the course progressing into its second semester, there will be more challenges. “I’m trying to intertwine life skills with the cooking,” he said.

So goal setting will be discussed, as a way to find success and increased self-esteem.

“If you don’t know something, there’s a process for learning it,” Mr. Johnson said. “I’m trying to open their minds up.”