Barbara McCrummen dubbed ‘The Cookie Lady’
Barbara McCrummen has been a teacher at the Frenship Independent School District for 28 years. She is affectionately known to alumni, staff and students as Cookie Lady. (Photo by Luke Backus)
Barbara McCrummen may have no idea how or when she received her nickname, but she does enjoy being known as the Cookie Lady of Frenship High School.
As a teacher in the Frenship Independent School District for 28 years, McCrummen has seen many changes. When the new building was constructed in the early 1980s, she said her classroom was behind the main building. After many additions over the years, her classroom is now part of the main building.
Construction isn’t the only change she has seen.
McCrummen chose to teach about food preparation because of the time her mother spent in the kitchen teaching her and because of the “wonderful” teachers she had as a child in her hometown of Taft.
“I just adored them. They made me love school,” said McCrummen of her own teachers. When she realized she could combine her love of cooking and teaching, she decided to make that her career.
She studied for two years at Bee County College in Beeville, and then for two and a half years at Texas Tech.
But in two years working with special education students in Lubbock, McCrummen found a third love, and worked special education into her repertoire.
Butter or margarine? Margarine, because of the price.
Top cookie tips:
Take them out when they have a texture to the centers.
Bake at 350 instead of 375.
Take cookies from the oven before they are overcooked.
Make sure dough has a whipped texture before adding flour.
While she originally taught classes of special education students food preparation skills for possible jobs later, changes in special education led to those students being introduced back to mainstream classrooms. Her early students would cook and serve for teachers back in those days, which is why McCrummen’s classroom feels alternately more like a home kitchen or a Dairy Queen, with tables and a cash register.
Now McCrummen is teaching special education students side-by-side with other students. And classes once known as home economics are now known as family and consumer science, while her own class is known as food production, management and services.
“A lot of the skills we learn in here, we use in life,” said McCrummen.
McCrummen said she has often wondered where her nickname came from.
“I don’t know how it started or what year,” she said. “I didn’t have very many students.”
But she said the 45 or so students that she does have cater for events throughout the district, specializing in cookies, cakes, holiday baking, candy and meals.
Among students at FHS, the standard chocolate chip cookie is a favorite, McCrummen said, but for adults, thumbprint cookies are generally more popular. The thumbprint cookies are just pecan sandies with a dab of frosting, she said.
McCrummen paused before identifying her own favorite cookie.
“My favorite? I would say probably cowboy, which is oatmeal, pecan and coconut,” she said.
McCrummen said she enjoys getting to know her students and pass on skills that her mother originally taught her, but she said she learns a lot from them as well.
The students see things differently and come up with creative new ways to do things. One student saw the ghost-shaped cake pans differently than she did and instead decorated a penguin, McCrummen said.
“We are always looking for ways to do better,” she said. “To be more creative is what I’ve learned from them.”
Students can also come to McCrummen’s classroom with problems and hopefully walk out a little lighter, she said.
“Dippin’ out a batch of cookie dough, you can work through a problem,” she said.
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