Using God’s Gifts to Serve

By Elwood Yoder

When LuAnn Miller Bender ’81 began teaching Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS) at EMS in 2001, Principal J. David Yoder told her that “we grow teachers.” Mrs. Bender says this became “super clear” to her, in that teachers could develop professionally while using their full range of gifts in the school. For fifteen years Mrs. Bender used her many gifts in excellent service to students, the EMS community, and to God, until her resignation from EMS in summer 2016.

If you had a class with Mrs. Bender, you know that she had a passion and adept skill for teaching FCS core classes such as sewing, housing, cooking, and human development. Additionally, Mrs. Bender expanded the FCS curriculum by offering students opportunities for independent research and projects, and by developing new courses, including Garden to Table and Ethnic Foods. Mrs. Bender explained that a highlight of her fifteen years included working with wonderful students and teachers and offering students chances to take as many sewing classes with her as they liked.

A graduate of EMHS in 1981, LuAnn Miller Bender graduated from Eastern Mennonite College in 1985. She was in the last FCS class that the College offered before the program was dropped. Today, Mrs. Bender explains, FCS classes are on the rise in high schools across the United States, though there are not nearly enough qualified teachers because so few colleges and universities offer a major in FCS.

LuAnn ’81 married Eric Bender ’81 and they have four children, all alumni of EMS: Joseph ’09, Malinda ’11, Mary ’14, and Michael ’16. Since leaving the school this past June, Mrs. Bender has joined husband Eric to work on their family farm.

Mrs. Bender’s teaching philosophy is to “love the students, love your subject matter, operate a hospitable classfaith room, meet student needs, and honor Christ above all.” Mrs. Bender indeed did all these things while also creating a welcoming, relaxed and encouraging haven for her students. She joked that she even got her students excited about eating okra! Mrs. Bender’s Christ-like teaching skills and care for everyone on the school campus will be missed. She has lived into her profession and has grown as a consummate professional in the FCS field, serving in a variety of organizations. She leaves the FCS program solidly poised for a new era at EMS.

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