Student Nomination Story

“Wow, You really made that?!” My relatives stood in awe as I revealed my newest creation. “Yes, yes I really did make…” that dress or those pajama pants or that quilted pillow. Many people stand with their jaw on the floor when they see a seventeen-year-old sews better than they can. “How did you learn how to sew?” they ask. “You learned from your mother, right?” But they are wrong. I not only learned how to sew, but how to make the best out of what you have from Mrs. Barbee. On the first day of Design and Clothing, during my sophomore year at Arrowhead High School, I sat waiting for the class to startㅡI was eager to start sewing, but I had no idea there was so much to learn. I learned the basics about sewing from my mom and auntsㅡI thought I knew everything. I couldn't have been more wrong. By the end of the first week, Mrs. Barbee cracked open my brain and packed it with knowledge about basting stitches, running stitches, backstitching, top stitch, blind stitches, and so much more. I could not believe there was so much to learn about sewing. One class began with learning how to thread a sewing machine. Within ten minutes of class starting, I heard the sound of Mrs. Barbee’s thundering voice echoing. “Go!” The sound of clattering machines rumbled through the classroom “Done!” exclaimed one student. How could she be faster than me? She’s never even threaded a machine before. The frustration boiled inside me until I started gaining speed and learning about my machine. “Nice! Only twelve seconds,” she said as we continued knocking the average time down to ten seconds. This simple activity gave students a thrill about the most boring and tedious task. Because of Mrs. Barbee, I can now thread my sewing machine without thinking. One of my biggest projects during the semester was making a pair of pajama pants with pockets (needless to say, I was petrified). There was so much resting on this project: my grade, the outcome of these pants, and three yards of flannel fabric (material is not inexpensive). I continuously asked Mrs. Barbee questions. But she assured me I was on the right path and told me if I made a mistake, I would be able to fix it. Mrs. Barbee taught me it's okay to make mistakes. She reminds me that as long as I am trying my best, it will work out. Not only did Mrs. Barbee teach me how to thread a machine like a pro, but she also gave me confidence I didn't know I hadㅡhow a little bit of effort can change my outlook on everyday tasks. Not only did Mrs. Barbee teach me how to sew, but she also taught me to have confidence in what I'm doing, and what I'm choosing to do is rightーeven if it isn’t correct, it will work out as long as I give it my best. Thank you, Mrs. Barbee.

Erin Vanevenhoven

I am a junior at Arrowhead High School, and so far I have had Mrs. Barbee’s creative and eager personality throughout my high school career. Seeing Mrs. Barbee for 80 minutes every other day is the highlight of my day. I go into her class to be creative. I’m not the best when it comes to any other classes; I like hands-on work and being able to create something with my hands. She has taught me so many different skills that range from cooking to sewing, all the way to floor plans for houses. All of those skills I will continue to perfect and use may be in a job someday (unlike the quadratic formula that I only used for a unit in math). I personally never went to Mrs. Barbee with any sort of problem or issue I was having, but I knew if I needed that she would be the one to go to. I knew she would give me her honest opinion. Mrs. Barbee is a superhero, in design and clothing; she taught her classes the sewing basics and how to make pajama pants. We did so many projects in that class. And even better, in food and nutrition, she taught me how to make a homemade roux! Mrs. Barbee teaches a well-rounded amount of classes; she teaches parenting, fashion analysis, design and clothing, world of children, food and nutrition, and interior design! I mean wow, can you believe that?! Those classes come with so many different skills but Mrs. Barbee knows it all! She’s amazing at what she does. Thank you, Mrs. Barbee, for being the devoted and intelligent teacher you are. Thank you for helping me figure out what I would like to do with my life. Your classes gave me a different look into creating.

Jaedyn Eschelweck

It was sophomore year and sewing was scary and foreign. I was interested but ignorant to the subject, so I took clothing and design with Mrs. Barbee. From the first day of class, I could tell that this teacher was not like the others. Quick, calm, and quirky, Mrs. Barbee wrangled our group of giggly girls into a class that was passionate about sewing. Throughout the second semester, that class became a safe haven—a place to relax and get work done. Always able to joke with us, Mrs. Barbee created an environment that made learning fun. The best part about Mrs. Barbee was she rarely just told her students the answer. Whether we asked about basic stitches or complex patterns, she asked us questions until we figured out the process for ourselves. I learned more than just how to use a sewing machine in that class; I learned how to answer my own questions. Mrs. Barbee helped me see I had the solutions, and if I wanted to sew, I would only have to think about it a little bit. After a summer of sewing and using what she taught me, I came to junior year. I had no room in my schedule for a class with Mrs. Barbee, but she made sure to make time for me when I needed mentorship. Before the start of a big project, she cleared a section of her schedule so I could talk to her, get her opinion, and wrap my brain around a plan of attack. In the same calm and joking tone, she walked me through my problems and suddenly I knew what the next steps were. Then, senior year approached and Fashion Analysis still didn’t fit in my schedule. I wanted to be in a design class again, so I took to Mrs. Barbee’s office at lunch—once again. Together, we found that Arrowhead offered an independent study and teaching assistant credit. Combining the two roles, she took time from her summer to help me come up with a curriculum that worked for both of us. Every other day, I spent eighty minutes helping the sewing class or creating something new. Playing with patterns and having almost constant guidance from an inspiring source changed not only how I saw sewing, but how I saw its role in my future. Always willing to talk, always there to help, Mrs. Barbee is an amazing teacher. Not only did she start me on my sewing journey, but she continues to help me learn new ways of problem-solving. Now, it is nearing the end of my senior year and I am going to college for fashion and costume design, and I have my sophomore sewing teacher Mrs. Barbee to thank for that.

Kaya Sarajian

To see more exceptional teacher nominees, visit The Honor Roll.