Melinda Smith, a professor of fashion at Saddleback College has been awarded the EMERITUS Professor of the Year Award.
Smith teaches Beginning Clothing Construction, and Intermediate Clothing Construction; but teaches Wearable Art in the summer. Each class she teaches has 30 to 35 students. Smith’s division of classes is geared towards adults 55 and up.
“I teach life-long learning classes” smith said.
Smith has been teaching for 13 years at Saddleback and has had some students repeat the some of her classes 12 times. “The classes I teach are fun, fresh and ‘current’ as we say in the fashion business,” smith explained.
Smith loves the process of learning and sharing; she first decided to become a teacher when she was in the first grade. She then moved onto go to Virginia Tech to get a degree in home economics when she was in college.
The award is nominated by students or a student who has taken Smith’s classes, and is decided by a committee. Smith explained that no semester is alike in her class; “fashion is always changing and evolving” according to Smith.
Smith redesigns her lessons every semester due to changing information such as what is considered “in” and what is considered “out.”
Smith believes sewing is a creative process. “With teaching you can give a demo and students can interpret the demo in their own way,” Smith said.
Smith also finds new creative ways to challenge her students to see what they can accomplish. One challenge she gave them was to go to a hardware store such as Lowe’s or Home Depot and use hardware to make fashion.
One student used bearing washers to make a necklace and another student used a medium size crane hook as part of another necklace.
Smith had a different challenge by making students make clothing from paper. The class made an apron out of paper napkins, an outfit out of coffee filters, and a bridal dress out of decorative papers and gift-wrap paper.
“I always love going to work,” Smith told the Lariat. Smith went into explaining that she loves teaching off the campus grounds because of the day-time hours. Smith’s class is located in the Laguna Woods Village off of the El Toro road near the Laguna Hills mall.