Osman is now in his 30th year of teaching in Dearborn County.
(St. Leon, Ind.) – Purdue University College of Health and Human Sciences (HHS) alumnus Brenda Osman always knew she wanted to be a teacher. As early as kindergarten, she had a classroom set up in her basement, where she taught him about dolls and stuffed animals and even typed her own worksheets on her plastic typewriter. With her strong involvement in 4-H leadership and family and consumer science projects, becoming a family and consumer science teacher was a natural choice.
Now in her 30th year teaching in Dearborn County, Indiana, Osman is honored with the 2022 Purdue HHS Distinguished Service Award for her leadership and significant contributions to East Central’s Family and Consumer Science curriculum. High School, as she shapes the lives of her students. and encourages them to give back to their community.
“I loved my experiences at Purdue and learned a lot there,” Osman said. “I appreciate that the college recognizes me. It taught me the skills I needed to come back to Southeast Indiana and be a family and consumer science teacher and have a successful career.
When Osman was a student at Purdue in what is now the Family and Consumer Science Education Program, she spent much of her time at So-Fro Fabrics, a local fabric store, where she worked full time, noting that her colleagues have become like a second family to her. She has also been involved with the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences and was president of the Purdue chapter. If she wasn’t around, she often hung out at Stone Hall or the South Campus Courts.
After graduating in 1992, Osman returned to Dearborn County, where she taught at another high school for four years before returning to her alma mater, East Central High School. She’s been there ever since.
In addition to teaching family and consumer science classes at East Central High School, Osman also leads the school’s very active Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) chapter. Under Osman’s leadership, the organization organizes a variety of community service activities each year, including carving pumpkins with residents of the local nursing home, organizing the snowflake dance for people community disabilities, sponsoring a “Dinner with Your Family” to help students and parents spend time together and learn about FCCLA, and more.
“In family and consumer sciences, yes, we try to produce a solid student, but it is important that we produce a solid citizen, someone who will make a difference in the lives of others, who will be able to support needs of his family and also has the skills to lead a productive and happy life,” Osman said.
Osman’s most recent effort with the FCCLA is to reconnect with former members, dating back to 1948, and bring them together for an alumni dinner. Although some of the organization’s outreach ideas come from brainstorming, Osman credits the students for coming up with many ideas, noting that it’s touching to see the compassion for service in each of his students.
Throughout his career, Osman has traveled with students to the FCCLA National Convention and prepared them to deliver polished speeches and projects, helped them develop their leadership skills, and guided them to successful careers. For Osman, success is not measured by wealth but by happiness and fulfillment, and she has been instrumental in grooming a variety of successful individuals, from nurses to teachers, doulas to creators of clothing, from neonatologists to stay-at-home parents.
“The kids know I’m proud of them, but they don’t understand how important it is as an educator to see them achieve their life goals,” Osman said.
While Osman found success as a teacher of family and consumer sciences and moved on to teaching many of her former students’ children, she said it was important that people understand that she is a product of the community to which she gives back, and that she enjoys instilling a spirit of helping and generosity in her students.
“To have these impacts on students, I just feel like it’s pretty amazing,” Osman said. “You plant seeds every time you have conversations.”