Where are you the teacher?
I am currently a school counselor at Dover Schools in northwest Oklahoma, I formerly taught agricultural education in Kingfisher, OK, for 20 years.
How many kids do you teach?
Since I am a school counselor, I am not a classroom teacher, but instead, I work with all students in grades Pre-K through 12, which is about 171 students.
Favorite thing about being a teacher?
There are so many rewarding aspects of teaching. I love being a part of students’ lives and watching them achieve something new. In today’s times, students want and need someone to look up to, encourage them, and push them to do new things or to believe in themselves. I love mentoring students when they need a listening ear or someone to lean on during hard times. Kids have a lot to deal with these days, and not everyone grows up with a support system like I had. They don’t have chores or a parent making them get out of bed to work or get to school. This saddens me, but it also makes my job as a teacher/counselor more important. It may seem like a lot of pressure to encourage students to be successful and do something positive with their lives, even if they don’t have much going for them, but I see this as a good challenge. I enjoy taking on a challenge that I know is going to benefit a student in the long run who needs someone like me to give them that extra push, hug, or encouraging word to do better and become someone great.
My absolute favorite is when a student comes back to see me after they have moved on because they appreciate the impact I have made in their lives. Even when a student says “thank you.” Or even a hug from an elementary student who may hate school but love Mrs. Burns. Those are the things that keep educators going. It is not the paycheck or the “summers off,” so they say; it’s the impact that an adult can have on a student’s life that makes educating the greatest career in the world.
Oprah may have her list of “favorite things” that will get thousands of likes, shares, and comments on Snapchat, but my mom taught me a long time ago that the best things in life aren’t “things.” It turns out she’s right!
Hardest thing you have had to accept in the last 10 years?
Over the past 10 years, teachers have had a lot of challenges. COVID was rough, and we still experience the challenges this pandemic caused. Education took a drastic turn after 2020 and will not soon recover. For many families, working together at home was a great time. I know that we had a lot of barn time together because there was nothing else to do. However, most students and schools have suffered greatly since the pandemic.
COVID is not even the most difficult thing I have experienced in the past 10 years. I believe the amount of technology our kids are exposed to is the hardest thing for me to accept and adjust to as an educator. Twenty years ago, we would ride in the ag truck all across Oklahoma, having meaningful conversations, teaching, learning, practicing reasons, memorizing speeches, and studying to get better at something. Now, I spend half of this bonding time asking kids to get off Snapchat, complaining about TikTok, and managing how much time is spent on Netflix. Don’t get me wrong, I use my phone a LOT! However, social media and instant messaging have taken over real social skills and learning opportunities, It is sad that a kid worries more about how many “likes” they have or “followers” they have and not about things that affect their lives. Cell phones are great for checking the weather and Google information you need immediately. However, I wish we could all disconnect for a bit and go back to the days when we talked to our ag teacher in the truck for hours on end, learning about life and agriculture.
Well, now you have officially experienced my Soapbox!
Favorite part of your community?
I have always felt lucky to live and work in a community that values education. I have only been a part of two school systems in my 24-year career, but I have been blessed with two amazing ones. Both communities love and care about what goes on inside the walls of their school. They value their educators. Let’s face it, teachers don’t get the best paychecks. However, they reap the rewards of parents who truly appreciate the teachers who care for their children. When something is needed, they provide. When teachers want to haul students to events across the country, they support. When you help a student achieve success, they offer praise
My biggest accomplishment is that I have a family I come home to every day. Despite the challenges we have been through, we are all in tact. I am very proud of my three sons and what they have done throughout their lives while remaining humble, strong, and grounded. I will never let anyone believe we are the perfect family, and I have three children to attest to that, but we are still here trying to do our best, and that is something I am proud of.
Many people do not understand the toll that ag teaching can have on a family. Well, my family has two ag teachers, and we are both extremely competitive and workaholics and don’t have a quititng time at night. This means that children at home are often a second thought, and that can take a toll on a family like ours. We are so lucky to have wonderful grandparents in our family that took over our roll as parents for many years. They taught my kids many life lessons when mom and dad were busy with the FFA kids. I often regretted the time I spent away from my small kids. But i will never regret the fine young men they have each grown into today.
Favorite time of the year and why?
My favorite time of the year is Thanksgiving. The reason is that I LOVE food, and my mom is hands down the best cook in the world, We have a week off to do absolutely nothing but cook, eat, decorate for Christmas, and watch Hallmark movies! Plus, I love Christmas, but Thanksgiving is the start of the season.