Teacher Feature: Karen Goulet


Goulet and her husband, Gene Photo courtesy of Karen Goulet

Goulet poses with one of her students (Photo courtesy of Karen Goulet)
Goulet with one of her advanced fashion classes (Photo courtesy of Karen Goulet)

When students first enter the classroom of Family and Consumer Sciences teacher Karen Goulet, they are greeted with a vibrant array of fabrics, patterns, sketches, and photos. For the past 13 years, Goulet has been helping students discover their passions for fashion—and cooking—at LHS.

Goulet was originally born in Queens but moved to Long Island in third grade, where she lived with her parents and two brothers, graduating from Herricks High School. Now, Goulet lives in Mineola with her husband of 29 years.

During high school, Goulet described herself as “one of the artsy types.” She could always be found fiddling with a sewing machine, designing new patterns, or studying design books at the library. She also had a sewing machine in her room growing up and would make homemade gifts for her friends and family. Goulet’s passion for sewing came from her grandmothers, who were both seamstresses, as well as her mother, who always made sure to buy the best-quality tools possible. “It was in my blood,” Goulet said.

Following her passion for clothing design—and her mother’s behest—Goulet attended the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), majoring first in fashion design and then switching to textile design. Upon her graduation, Goulet began her 20-year career in the fashion industry, where she worked various jobs for big businesses in both men’s and women’s wear. One such position Goulet held was as a yarn dye artist for Van Heusen, where she created intricate striped and plaid designs for men’s dress shirts. Goulet also lived in Taiwan for three years, where she designed screen prints on paper to be translated into actual pieces of clothing. “This was at a time when there were no computers. Everything I did was by hand,” Goulet shared. “It was done in a very different way than the digital world today.” 

Overall, Goulet attributes her success in the fashion industry to the relationships she formed along the way: “You would meet people, and you have no idea where they could take you.” During this time, Goulet also discovered the importance of inspiration. “I always used to try to be so original, and it was a mistake,” Goulet said. “You can’t just come up with ideas out of the cloud. You have to have something that’s inspiring that you’re looking at, so you have a direction, rather than floundering.”

After Goulet married and had two children, she began to consider a career change. “When my kids started going to school, I wanted to know what they physically did, and they weren’t able to tell me,” Goulet recalled. Additionally, Goulet noticed how certain students succeeded in school because they were proficient in core subjects, like science, English, and math. However, children who did not excel in these areas often did not feel successful. “I wanted [these children] to feel good about themselves, too, so I entered a different type of subject,” Goulet shared. 

Thus, Goulet went back to school and received her master’s degree in education at Adelphi University. She landed her first teaching job in Queens, working for four years as a middle school computer, art, social studies, and English teacher. Then, she taught a fashion and foods class at MacArthur High School in Levittown for one year before coming to LHS in 2009 as a fashion teacher. Upon her arrival here, Goulet helped to redesign the fashion curriculum, incorporating more art and design into the program. This year, Goulet teaches two Clothing and Textiles classes, two Fashion classes, and one Food and Nutrition class.

As part of Goulet’s Clothing and Textiles class, students are introduced to the world of fashion, learning basic skills such as illustration on the figure, embroidery, and hand and machine sewing. In her more advanced Fashion classes, of which Clothing and Textiles is a prerequisite, students learn about the design, production, and marketing of clothing, accessories, and textiles. Recently, Goulet’s Fashion students worked on designing and sewing satchel bags using commercial patterns and fabrics of their choice. Later in the year, around March or April, these students will have the use of the Bern Seiderman gallery in the cafeteria to display their artwork, an annual highlight of the class. “I like to get [students] involved in display because that, in itself, could be a career,” noted Goulet. 

Around six years ago, Goulet began teaching the Food and Nutrition class, where students learn about food preparation techniques and get to make a variety of different recipes. Though teaching the class is a very demanding job, Goulet greatly enjoys the task: “It’s a lot of physical and mental work, but it’s so satisfying—you get to form relationships when you eat with other people.” She attributes her love for cooking to “fond food memories” from her childhood, having grown up in an Italian household.

Goulet’s favorite part of working at LHS is being able to relate to the young people around her. “It makes me feel youthful,” she said. “I love to remember what it was like being in high school. [My students] make me laugh every day, and I like to see what’s popular in the media.” She also enjoys seeing students blossom as they discover their passions in fashion: “Students can learn that they’re creative, or that they’re good at color, or good at sewing, or good at presenting their work.” Whether students decide to pursue fashion as a career or just a hobby, there are many areas for them to succeed. Goulet especially takes delight in getting to showcase her students’ work, whether it be in the gallery or on the bulletin board outside her classroom. “When we enter a project, I’m always thinking about the end result and how it will look on display,” Goulet said.

Throughout her time at LHS, Goulet has formed many close relationships with students and teachers, especially art teacher Michael Kunz and fellow cooking teacher Lauren Reganato, who have both been working with Goulet since her arrival at the school. “Mrs. Goulet is a fun, creative, and caring person,” said Kunz. Reganato continued, describing Goulet as a “positive person who is enjoyable to be around.” She also noted Goulet’s dedication to her classroom: “She puts a tremendous amount of thought and effort into her work here and does it with joy.”

Outside of school, Goulet enjoys spending time with her family, often traveling to the city and attending concerts with her husband. “We love the ‘80s alternative/new wave music,” Goulet shared. She also frequently travels to the Poconos, the beach, and a myriad of restaurants. Both Kunz and Reganato admire Goulet’s adventurous spirit. “[Goulet] doesn’t let life pass her by; she is always open to try new things and go new places,” said Kunz. Reganato agreed: “You know that phrase, living your best life? That’s her; she’s doing it right!”