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It has been said that the only constant in life is change. Such is true when it comes to the life of an ag teacher. Recently, I have made many changes to my life both personally and professionally. The biggest of these changes was accepting a new ag teaching job at South Hunterdon High School and leaving the only school I have ever taught at.

 

I wasn't planning to seek out a new job and the choice to leave my current district was one of the hardest professional decisions I have ever made. Writing my letter of resignation and calling my administrators to let them know I was leaving were extremely difficult and emotional experiences. I also did not get the chance to say goodbye to my students, but unfortunately my new job was not made final until after school let out for the summer. For the most part, I was very happy in my old district and had wonderful administrators who supported the program and my desire to grow as a professional. They were huge advocates of implementing new CASE courses each year, made sure the program had all the supplies and materials needed to teach CASE, kept the ag science facility up to date with the latest technology, and allowed me to attend many different professional development opportunities. However, teaching ag in an urban setting is challenging, and it began to take its toll. Living so far away from my family in an environment I didn't like made it hard for me to enjoy my favorite activities in my personal life, and I began to lose the precious balance that is needed between personal and professional.

 

When the posting for my new job showed up in my inbox back in May, I decided it was worth looking into. I knew that South was one of the best in the state in terms of academics, was located in a more rural area of New Jersey, had a rich tradition in ag and FFA, and used the CASE curriculum. I went on my first real job interview and much to my surprise was offered the job there, and decided to accept it. The program there has so much potential for growth and success, and it was too good of a professional opportunity to pass up. The facility is huge, and with some reorganizing it is going to become an awesome ag science learning lab. The school and community have welcomed me with open arms, and there is a ton of support from the South FFA Alumni and the local ag industry.

 

My new job is going to be a HUGE change from what I've been used to. I will be teaching both middle and high school ag classes, and will have more students in one ag class there than I did in my entire program at my old school. I'll still be teaching the CASE courses that I am used to, but also have the chance to teach of other fun ag classes such as Floriculture to the high school students and Ag Technology to the middle schoolers. The students are highly motivated, love ag, and want to participate in FFA activities and SAEs. As the advisor to 2 chapters (middle and high school), it will be a lot more work, but I have a wonderful co-advisor to assist me as well as an amazing high school chapter officer team. I've already started working with them, and they have some great things planned to promote the chapter during the summer months. We are very excited to be working together to bring the South ag program and FFA chapters back to their former level of excellence, and I am confident that we will learn, grow, and succeed in the process!

 

Personally, the move is also a positive change. My new apartment is much larger than where I was living, and is located in a quaint agricultural community about 10 minutes from my new school. I live next door to a huge horse farm, and there are hay farms bordering the property as well. The more rural settings will allow me to enjoy the activities I love such as biking, running, and horseback riding. I will also be located closer to my family, which is a huge plus.

 

I will always be grateful to my first district for giving me a great place to plant the seeds of my career and to grow as a professional. I hope that whomever they find to fill my position continues to build on the foundation I laid, and capitalizes on the opportunities and partnerships that I built. While I am said to leave, I know this move is for the best and will allow my life to be in a place where I can finally plant some roots of my own. Change is hard, but it allows us the opportunity to move up, move out, and move on.

 

Hope everyone is enjoying their summer so far, and look for S'Morey next month.

 

-TM

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