2012, Eastern Hancock High School
2. Could you give a little background on how your program is run (ex. how many students in your classes and FFA chapter)
Eastern Hancock has a two teacher agriculture program, offering 10 different courses to the students as well as an FFA homeroom option. I have the great opportunity to teach both middle school and high school students. While my main classes consist of high school students, I have two classes of middle school students- 7th and 8th grade. My class sizes this school year vary from 6 students to 27 students. The average class size for the entire agriculture department is approximately 24 students. As for the FFA chapter we have 80 students on our roster, open to grades 7-12 and a few 6th grade students that participate in local activities.
3. What has been your greatest accomplishment since you began teaching?
I still consider myself a rookie teacher, so it's hard for me to label something my "greatest accomplishment," however I do have a few at this point that would make the list. In regards to in the classroom, I would have to say it is as simple as seeing the passion for agriculture ignited especially in my middle school students. Some of the high school students already know future plans and maybe are just taking the class for an elective, not always but some of the time. The middle school students however are still "sponges,” excited to learn and try new things. This is a pivotal opportunity for myself to educate them about the importance of agriculture, develop a new appreciation, and hopefully open them up to new possible career interests in the agriculture industry. In regards to my career as an FFA Advisor, my greatest accomplishment would have to be starting a Food Science CDE team my first year as a teacher and on the second year for the team we won the state contest and placed 12th as a team at this past years National FFA Convention.
4. What do you love the most about teaching?
The part about teaching that I love the most is building rapport and creating connections with students, seeing them grow over the year(s). I take it to heart when I have students that come to me for advice, recommendation letters, or simply just stop by my room to say hello, even with students I haven't had for a few years. It is definitely re-affirming that I am doing my job as an educator when there is that level of trust and comradery between myself and the students. Another aspect I love of course is teaching the future leaders about agriculture and introducing them to all of the opportunities available through this crucial industry. I find it important to communicate to my students, especially middle school, that agriculture today is much more than just farming; there's research, marketing, and so much more and they all have a place in agriculture.
5. What has been your greatest challenge as a teacher?
My greatest challenge has been finding the right balance of time commitment to being an educator, an advisor, and having a family and social life....still working to master this one.
6. Finally, Is there any advice that you would give us students in agriculture education?
My advice would be to make the most of your student teaching opportunity, you'll only get out what you put into it. Do research and select the school that gives you a different perspective on teaching agriculture than that of which you are already familiar with, it's okay to step out of your comfort zone, it'll make you stronger and more well-rounded in the end. During your student teaching experience try to attend as many activities as possible, it's a good realization of the early mornings and long nights that ag teachers put in for their students. It will also help your build a stronger relationship with your supervising teacher which will be a great resource for advice in the future. I still talk to mine on a regular basis and we go out to dinner at least once a semester just to catch-up. So make the most of your experiences at Purdue and in student teaching because it'll go extremely fast and once it's over you'll be the top owl in this exciting, full-throttle life as an agriculture educator.