BALLINGER - A beloved teacher will be leaving Ballinger ISD to start a new journey and her students say they will miss not only her culinary skills, but her warm smile, advice and support.

BALLINGER - A beloved teacher will be leaving Ballinger ISD to start a new journey and her students say they will miss not only her culinary skills, but her warm smile, advice and support.

Julie Halfmann, who has been the Family and Consumer Science Teacher and FCCLA advisor for the past five years, made the decision to step away from the classroom while continuing her work as a culinary educator in late April.

"It was time to do something different," Halfmann said. "I have been commuting from Wall for the past five years."

Under Halfmann’s direction, Ballinger’s FCCLA STAR event teams have reached the state level each year and three teams have advanced to the national level, winning gold each time. She has advised both regional and state FCCLA officers and has been an active member of the FCCLA State Visionary committee. The Family Consumer Science program at BHS has fostered two students- Sarah Wright and Allison Schaefer- who are pursuing careers in FCS education at Texas Tech University. Many students have received scholarships via the program with awards totaling $51,000.

Halfmann, who has achieved certification as a culinary educator through the National Restaurant Education Foundation, will expand her business, Julie’s Table @Halfmann Farms. The business offers recreational cooking classes and farm-to-table specialties. In addition to classes, Julie’s Table will offer culinary tourism with trips and tours focusing on food, chefs, and specialty destinations.

Halfmann has cooked up many memories and great dishes with her students during her years at BISD. She’s also inspired students to make culinary arts their lifelong career.

Freshman Layla Staker said she wants to be a chef and said she wants to continue in the FCA classes.

“I hope the program will continue,” Staker said.

Ballinger ISD Superintendent Jeff Butts said there is no doubt the program will continue.

“We are currently looking for someone to fill the position,” said Butts. “And we plan to fill it.”

Other students may not be looking at cooking as a career - but they want to learn the valuable skill so they can help with meals at their homes.

“Before I came in to Mrs. Halfmann’s class I burned water,” said Senior Nezlie Nieto. “I have now learned how to cook several things.”

Junior Azalea Rodriguez said she has learned how to cook numerous dishes and baked goods.

“I’ve learned how to cook several things from scratch,” Rodriguez said. “Like mac and cheese, cookies and yeast rolls.”

It’s not just her cooking skills that students will miss - they will miss her leadership and friendship.

“You can come to her with anything,” said Junior Jayden Gore. “It's sad, she's a really good teacher and she's been like a mom to us - we will miss her so much!"