My mom loves to tell the story of when I was very young and standing in line with her at the bank. I looked to her and said,
"Momma, I wanna be a teller."
"A bank teller, and work at a bank like this?"
"No Momma, I wanna tell people what to do."
Every time I hear that story, I think about how funny it is that I became a teacher. When I'm not "telling" my students what they need to know to be career ready, I look forward to telling you all about my experiences as one of the Day in the Life of an Ag Teacher bloggers.
I'm Jessie Hartle (pronounced as HART-lee, although I'm frequently and loudly referred to by my students as "Ms. Hart-ull") I'm 25 and in my 4th year teaching agriculture at rural Page High School in Franklin, Tennessee (about 30 minutes south of Nashville). The town itself is historical and relatively urban, but PHS is on the outlying country area that has an odd combination of students from both well-off and low-income families. PHS is a Blue Ribbon School and has been named to both Newsweek and the US Today's lists of the top high school in the United States. Our facilities are pretty old (built in 1973), and we are literally the only thing aside from houses and farms in this area. That leads to a pieced-together but somehow successful school of about 830 students.
Williamson County is home to many famous country music stars- Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, and George Jones are just a few. Middle Tennessee is well known for hosting both the Walking Horse Capitol of the World, and the Nursery Capitol of the World. Many of my students show livestock or want to be a veterinarian when they "grow up". My program has tailored itself to meet these needs over the past few years, moving from a plant science based curriculum to one with Vet Science, Small Animal Care, Livestock Management, and Agriscience courses. I'm very hopeful that in the coming weeks I will get the go-ahead to turn my dilapidated old shop into an animal lab...but that's a story for another day.
All 88 students enrolled in the courses also become FFA members (as we affiliate our membership now). Our FFA chapter has won 4 state titles and elected 2 state officers since I've been at the helm. As a past Tennessee state officer, I'm always passionate about involving my students not just in the classroom, but in the FFA as well. My goals are always high when it comes to the FFA; are they always met? No- there are plenty of days when we walk away without a win or something goes wrong and I think, "I know we can do better." What I've realized is that list of goals I made many years ago for my career can't be accomplished in 1, 2, or even 5 years. I have progressed into a much more patient person because of it...which is also a story for another day.
My 2012-13 chapter officers during our retreat at Camp Clements Leadership Camp in Doyle, TN
I grew up in the country (about an hour north of where I now teach) and raised chickens, and knew from the first year enrolled in agriculture that this could not be just a 4 year experience for me. I graduated in 2009 from Middle Tennessee State University: Go Blue Raiders! Just because you may not have heard of it doesn't mean we aren't big time here in Tennessee- MTSU boasts the largest undergraduate enrollment in the state (yes, bigger than any school you know that wears bright orange.)
Me in 2002 before the state Creed CDE. The hair, the braces, the orange and purple jacket... *cringe*
Once I (finally) leave school and head home to Nashville, I like to bake and do other crafty things. I embrace my Southern roots and thoroughly enjoy NASCAR. Shout out to all the Texas and Oklahoma ag teachers- I love red dirt country music, especially Stoney LaRue. I collect owls (of course) and soil from anywhere I travel. (Feel free to send me some!)
I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the many topics that surprise, excite, frustrate, or confound us. In the meantime, you can find me on Twitter @JessieHartle, and can catch up with my FFA members at page.ffanow.org.
"The secret of success is to make your vocation your vacation." - Mark Twain