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2 designers in red displaying 2 red dresses

Fashion Design Teacher Renee Aube Takes Students to Texas State Design Competitions

Fashion design teacher Renee Aube is paving the way for student success at Dr. Gene College and Career Academy, a Career and Technical Education (CTE) program for students at Rockwall High School and Rockwall Heath High School, in Rockwall, Texas. For the past three years, she has taught Fashion Design 1 & 2 and Fashion Design Practicum 1 & 2 at the academy, which prepares students to compete as design contestants in the FCCLA and SkillsUSA competitions. This year, with the help of FIDM College Representative Kelly Blessing, Aube took sixteen students to FCCLA and SkillsUSA at the state level, making it the highest number of students to compete in that level of competition in the academy’s history. “We had the most successful state convention we’ve ever had in the history of our program. We have tons of ribbons and plaques and metals floating around here,” said Aube. Five of these students also competed in the FCCLA national competition in June, in Nashville, Tennessee.

Women with dresses

Aube believes that the most important lesson she can impart to her students is to empower them to recognize and develop their own leadership skills. “The whole program here is built on leadership, and that’s what I try to foster,” explained Aube. “I am trying to promote the new leaders of America and prepare them with all the lifelong skills I can give them to always strive for excellence.” With the help of FIDM, Aube was able to achieve that goal this year.

FIDM College Representative Kelly Blessing provided professional fashion critiques of the student’s competition portfolio and garment designs virtually. With Blessing’s assistance, Aube prepared more students than ever before to compete in FCCLA and SkillsUSA. “Kelly Blessing is such a blessing to our chapter. She is not only a friend of mine, but she is also a major mentor. She is so good at listening to them,” Aube said. “It’s so good to have a second ear and for your students to have someone who will listen to them and kind of critique them.”

Designer with dress

Aube’s students prepare for over four months to compete in FCCLA and SkillsUSA. They start in October by creating a portfolio, and then design several garments and an accompanying speech for submission the following February. The designs and portfolios showcase their knowledge of fashion construction techniques and function, fabric and textile choices, digital and hand-drawn fashion sketching, and patternmaking. Students also demonstrate their business development skills, such as understanding various buying methods and production prices and researching intended audiences and branding.

Aube explained that by participating in the competitions, students learn what it takes to pursue a career in design. “This is not a piece of cake. It takes a long time to get there, a lot of hard work,” she said. “All in all, this experience and journey is not an easy one, but one that promotes confidence and self-esteem in all students, empowering them to believe in themselves by doing great things.”

Designer posing with dress

The portfolio and custom designs for the competitions give the students an edge to secure a job position, and FIDM offers scholarships to winning design contestants to attend FIDM. “They all have their eyes on FIDM,” said Aube. “I feel that I can empower these kids to go do anything they want to do with the resources at FIDM.”

Aube utilizes FIDM resources in the classroom to build a hands-on curriculum, encourage project-based learning, and promote leadership skills. Students watch FIDM’s draping and patternmaking tutorials led by FIDM Fashion Design Co-Chair Nick Verreos, and put their skills to practice by teaching their peers the instructions. “It’s powerful if I can teach a student how to do something, but it is more powerful when I can watch that student teach other students,” Aube said. “ I know that if a student can go teach that skill then I’ve done something right.”

Group of students with dresses designed

Aube takes her students to Los Angeles to tour the FIDM campus and the Los Angeles Fashion District every three years. She advocates for the importance of field trips as a core component of her curriculum, and has taken her students to FIDM’s 3 Days of Fashion and FIDM DEBUT. She explained that taking her students to FIDM allows them to see firsthand the many opportunities that await them after graduation.

Aube’s dedication to providing students with leadership opportunities empowers them to develop their passion for a creative career path. Each spring, her students work with the community to organize the academy’s Spring Fashion Show. The show is a chance for the students to showcase their designs and the designs of the community. Students partner with local boutiques, which provide free hairdressing and makeup services, as well as garments and accessories for the runway.

Renee Aube Fashion Design Teacher

As the academy’s FIDM Fashion Club advisor, Aube empowers students to develop leadership skills through monthly community service projects. The club hosts “Socktober,” a sock drive held every October for the elderly in the community and organizes coat drives and food drives in the winter months, actively participating in the community.

Five of Aube’s students will be attending FIDM in the fall, including the academy’s FIDM Fashion Club President. By enabling students to recognize their capabilities in leadership design, Aube helps students to realize their potential as professional designers. The next step, of course, is FIDM.

Learn more about FCCLA Scholarships to attend FIDM.