Where are you the teacher?
Muscatine Community Schools, Muscatine Iowa
How many kids do you teach?
I’m currently only teaching middle school agriculture and see on average 340 7th and 8th grade students per year. Plus I help advise the FFA chapter of about 350 high school members.
Favorite thing about being a teacher?
Im a teacher because I like helping kids discover what their potential is and try teach them new skills to try to become the best version of themselves they can. Hopefully along the way the develop a passion for agriculture and can use that in the daily life or as a career field. I’m not a 9-5 in an office kind of person and teaching means there is something different everyday. I try to make class as hands on as I can- I like that as much as the kids do.
Livestock Projects and FFA Contests are pretty up there are as far as favorite parts of teaching though.
Hardest thing you have had to accept in the last 10 years?
There is a lot to be negative about in education at the current moment and I see good teachers (not even just ag teachers) leaving the profession in droves. We are so short on ag teachers across the nation! When I started teaching there were legends around that everyone knew because they had been in the profession and done a quality job for so long. Now- most of them are done and retired and you see so many people leaving teaching before they get to that point. Because there are a lot of hard things (discipline at school, kids wasting their potential, pay-scale, extra duties, extra paperwork, school politics, sometimes parents, kids attitudes…etc.) sometimes I go home at night and say I quit. Then I hop on facebook and see some alumni killing it with a sweet ag career, enjoying their family or being part of their community and I change my tune- at least for a few days. I try to focus on the positive and why I became a teacher in the first place- to give back to an agriculture industry that has given so much to me by getting kids immersed in it- helping kids find their purpose and trying to do what I can to make the next generation better because it’s real easy to get all bent out of shape over the hard things.
I’m wired to always think I can fix everything and can work hard enough to make things work out for the best but I can’t “fix” every kid, family, or the American education system and I’m just going to have to live with that and do what I can for those I can
Favorite part of your community?
The willingness of the community- especially our “Friends of FFA” to help with anything we ask of them. Whether that’s raising money and finding land to put up a super facility, or guest speak in a class, or let us come out to use stock to practice judging, or be a sounding board or just make sure we as teachers are being the best we can be for the program.
There’s a lot of plaques and banners hanging at school and my office but they’ll end up in a box collecting dust someday. My biggest accomplishment is meeting some really neat students, parents, and other teachers through the years and knowing I’ve helped mold and shape kids lives.
Favorite time of the year and why?
Standard teacher answer: summer. But I like it for the extra time/flexibility to work with kids one on one or in small groups on the livestock projects, take kids to shows/fairs, prepare for state CDEs.