Jefferson West teacher wins ‘Adviser of the Year’ award
Story and photo by Clarke Davis
Teacher and adviser Leslie Abbott came home from a Wichita leadership conference with a national award for Master Adviser of the Year in early April.
Abbott teaches family and consumer science classes at the Jefferson West Middle and High schools and is the adviser for both chapters of Family, Career and Community Leaders of America.
She was nominated for the award by local parents and students and will be given recognition when she attends the national conference in Anaheim, Calif., this summer. She was also named the District E-West Chapter Adviser of the Year and given the highest state award, Kansas Chapter Adviser of the Year.
Leslie gives credit to her former coaching experience and the mentoring of other district advisers including her predecessor at Jefferson West, Mary Anne Knowles, for the success she has had in leading the local FCCLA chapters.
The teacher is an Ovid, Colo., native and attended Colby Junior College and Fort Hays State University. She majored in family and consumer science but has minors in English, science, and and social science.
Scholarships in basketball and journalism helped pay her way through college where she was named an All-Regional Academic Athlete carrying a 4.0 gpa.
Her classes include two career paths for students, consumerism and community service. The first helps students learn to balance a checkbook, buy a car, set up a household, etc. The second is about setting personal goals, leading charity work, and providing human services.
She said these courses align with other state schools, but she would like to in time add culinary arts, ranging from being a chef to restaurant management and food service.
Along with career planning her classes teach food science, human growth and development, parenting and health and wellness. Her student count is about 150 in high school and 85 in middle school.
The FCCLA chapters are for those students who want to go beyond the classroom experience.
“This organization grooms students to lead others and gain self-confidence,” she said.
When Abbott came to Jefferson West four years ago, she jumped at the chance to be the adviser for both middle and high schools.
“It’s amazing to see the growth among the younger students,” she said, “and the middle school students are the foundation for the high school program.”
Before coming to Jefferson West, Abbott taught and coached at Central Heights south of Ottawa, K.C. Turner, Olathe North, Lyndon, and Northern Hills in the Seaman District.
She said the turning point for her in being an FCCLA adviser came at Northern Hills.
“We were members of this District E-West, about a dozen schools, who all work together for all the students,” she said. “It doesn’t matter what school the student is from, we are all pulling for them.”
A former volleyball, basketball, and track coach, Abbott believes these skills help her be a better adviser.
“I know how to encourage students and urge them to get out of their comfort zone,” she said.
Leslie’s husband, Brian, is always ready to help the program. He flips the hamburgers when they have a get together. She has an 11-year-old son, Collin Ellis.
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