Sewing, ironing, cooking, and home management were once important talents for a young lady to learn as she approached adulthood and the end of her high school years. Fast food in the 1950s and ’60s was not quite the thing yet, and home cooking helped make those living in “Home Sweet Home.”
Chesterfield secured a County Agricultural Agent in 1914. He conducted demonstrations for farmers on improved agricultural techniques. He also allowed for the beginning of the first home economics demonstations at Thomas Dale High School.
Shortly thereafter, home ec became a major part of the curriculum for the young ladies.
Chesterfield’s new full time hire in 1927. She worked throughout the county on modern methods of housekeeping. The home ec club moved into its own clubhouse about then, seen in the photo with the club members gathered out front.
The building behind is the old Thomas Dale. It was razed later and a new schoolhouse was built ,which is now of the Ninth Grade campus. The home ec building still exists. It was moved across West Hundred Road and now sits almost exactly opposite of its original location, painted red and having a beauty shop.
Ellen Swallow Richards, a Bostonian, served as the first president of the American Home Economics Association, and she was instrumental in coming up with the term “home economics” in 1899.
Chesterfield schools have changed the focus as well as the name, home ec is now called “Family and Consumer Sciences.” Its curriculum is goal achievement, responsibilities within the family, and accountability for personal safety and health. Classes also explore and practice financial management, clothing maintenance, food preparation, positive and caring relationships with others, and self-assessment as related to career exploration.