It's hard to believe that summer is over and that in a few short days I will be beginning the next chapter of my teaching career when I meet my new students. At the end of the last school year, I accepted a new ag teaching job and left the school where I had been since my student teaching days.
Jumping In- In June, I packed up my life, and moved to area of New Jersey where I didn't really know anyone or anything. Instead of getting tenure yesterday when school started, I am starting all over again as a "new" teacher. New jobs also mean lots of other new things: new school, new administrators, new co-workers, new students, new grade level of students (middle school!), new curriculum, new rules and regulations, new parents, new classrooms, and a new FFA chapter. The decision to make this career move wasn't easy, but after spending the summer getting settled into my new community and school, I know in my heart that it was the right one to make.
Treading Water- July was a whirlwind of filling out paperwork and all of the other tasks associated with getting a new job. I was also fortunate enough to receive a grant from DuPont Pioneer to attend the CASE Animal and Plant Biotechnology Institute in Maryland. Of all of the CASE trainings I've been to, I found this one to be the most interesting and engaging. The rigorous content was made manageable and even fun thanks to great lead teachers Carl Aakre and Aaron Geiman and fellow participants like Matt Eddy and Leslie Fairchild (and many others!). I am so excited to teach this course next year and am thankful to DuPont Pioneer for the opportunity afforded to me by their scholarship!
Doggy Paddling- August brought my first real vacation since I began teaching (it was awesome and much needed!) the fun task of cleaning and organizing my classroom. While program's former teachers (3 in the past 5 years) are all great people, organization was not their strong suit and the classroom and shop area were in a state of utter and total chaos and disarray. Thanks to their rather "creative" and confusing systems (or lack thereof) of organization, supplies and equipment were here, there, and everywhere. My amazing co-FFA advisor and she was nice enough to come in a help me clean up the mess, and we had many laughs and gross/surprising/crazy discoveries as we sorted through 40+ years of stuff. After 30+ hours of cleaning, 20+ cans of "stuff" thrown away, 500+ textbooks removed from the room, and a complete reorganization of every drawer, cabinet, and closet in the shop and classroom, I can now say the classroom is clean and organized! Everything is labeled, and there are distinct areas for labs, FFA, floral design, and aquaculture. New and replacement equipment and supplies are on order, and in a few weeks, I will have everything I need to teach! I still need to tackle the greenhouse, which is currently growing an excellent crop of weeds, but that's what students are for!
I also had the opportunity to work with my new FFA chapter officers. They are a truly excellent group of young adults, and are determined to see their chapter grow and succeed. I had my first student qualify for National Convention, and she will be representing New Jersey both there and at the Big E in the Dairy Cattle Handler CDE. While I will not be there to see here compete, I know she will do well and represent our state and chapter with pride! We also had a display in the Community Tent at the Hunterdon County Fair. The fair organizers let us have the space for free, and the officers did an amazing job designing and decorating it! They manned the booth all 5 nights of the fair, and did a great job interacting with the community to let them know that South FFA is back in action. I also had the opportunity to get involved with my new chapter's FFA Alumni and thanks to them and parents' of the members, we had adults at the booth each night as well. Several Alumni members and parents have also volunteered to coach CDE teams, and its a wonderful (and new and novel) feeling to know that there is such strong support behind the FFA chapter. I can't wait to get the year started so that we can work together to bring the chapter back to it's former level of excellence!
Our awesome display at the Hunterdon County Fair! (above and below)
Freestyling- Now it is September and on Monday, I will meet my new students. I've been given a warm welcome to my new school by my administrators and co-workers. They held a new teacher orientation for us "newbies" and I was assigned an awesome mentor who teachers science and loves ag. The staff inservice days were very informative and useful for last minute preparations to the classroom, so I am feeling ready to go! I can't wait for Monday, so that I can begin my new adventure!
My lovely "welcome" sunflowers from a thoughtful new co-worker!
The next few weeks will be the usual craziness of school starting, so look for S'Morey later this month. I would also like to thank Ellen Thompson and the Teach Ag Campaign for allowing me to serve as A Day in the Life blogger for another year, and all of you for reading my blog and letting me share my story with you! Blogging about my experiences as an ag teacher has been an incredibly rewarding experience, and I am very grateful and fortunate to get to continue doing it! Good luck to everyone as they begin the start of the school year. Keep on doing what you love, and loving what you do!