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This is by far the most difficult blog post I've had to write. After 4 years and countless hours of hard work, my district decided not to renew my contract and to let me go at the end of this school year. This means that as of June 30th, I will be without the job title that has defined my identity for almost a decade: agriculture teacher and FFA advisor. After seven years of devoting myself to my profession, building two amazing ag program, helping others, and serving as a superhero to my students, I am unable to use my super powers to preserve and save the one thing that allowed me to use them in the first place.

 

The news hit me like a shockwave and has rattled my co-workers, students, and community supporters. During my time here, the ag program was transformed into one of the best in the state and our FFA chapter experienced unparalleled levels of success. The students grew tremendously and developed into the type of young adults that our agriculture industry needs. Over a hundred thousand dollars of grant money was secured for new curriculum, supplies, and a brand new state of the art agricultural science lab. Enrollment in ag classes soared, articulation agreements were established, countless community projects were performed, and the program hosted our first student teacher. However, when it came down to it, it was not enough for me to keep my job as an ag teacher.

 

Change is hard for many people, and in a traditional agricultural community like the one I work in, the change was too much for some. There was much focus on how I was not like past teachers and doing things the way "they had always been done".  Instead of people seeing all of the amazing things the students were doing, all they saw was how it was different from what had been done in the past. While the changes to the program were necessary to prepare students for the ever changing and evolving field of agriculture and reflected the agricultural needs of our state as a whole, not everyone saw it that way. Unfortunately, there was a lot of negative backlash related to the positive changes made to the ag program, and that ultimately cost me my job.

 

For a while, I wallowed and almost drowned in the negativity and anger over what my district had done to me. But then I realized that what happened to me had nothing to do with my abilities as a teacher or FFA advisor. and everything to do with how the changes to the program were perceived.  Ever since I started here, I have been like Superman, or in my case Superwoman and work tirelessly to promote positive change, help others, and do the right thing. As fellow ag teachers, you understand this because you are the same type of teaching superhero. You understand the sacrifices, hard work, and dedication it takes to do this job. Like me, you have sacrificed nights, weekends, holidays, summers, time with family and friends, and a good chunk of your personal life for this amazing profession. And also like me, you did these things willingly and with a smile because you knew how important it was to your students and what a positive difference it made for them.

 

But like in the Superman comics and movies, not everyone can appreciate the superhero efforts that we ag teachers make. Not everyone understands how much extra we do for our students, and how hard we work behind the scenes to make our ag programs function and our FFA chapters run smoothly. In his quest for justice and doing what's right, Superman runs into challenges from others who don't support his efforts or who won't support the actions and decisions he makes, even if they are for the ultimate good of everyone. This is what happened to me. Despite my best efforts to save and positively transform the ag program and FFA chapters here, which I did successfully, those who didn't support the changes ultimately prevailed. My heart is sad that they can't appreciate the amazing things that were happening, and that as a result of their actions, my students, the future of agriculture, are the ones who will suffer most.

 

While my teaching superpowers will be on hold until I can find a new ag teaching job, I'm never going to forget that they exist or stop putting them to use whenever the situation calls for it. I know I am an  innovative and effective agriculture teacher, an outstanding FFA advisor, and a positive mentor for my students. I will never forget the things I have accomplished so far in my career, and I will never stop striving for continued personal and professional growth and success. I will continue to strive to offer the highest quality agricultural education and FFA experiences to my past, present, and future students and will keep working to make positive changes in the lives of those I educate and work with. Every superhero needs to take a rest once in a while, and I guess this is my time.

 

I'm not disappearing from teaching ag, but I am taking some time to figure out what comes next. I'm excited to explore all of my options and to see what comes next. I can't wait to see where my next program and FFA chapter will be, and to meet all of my future students.The future is bright and this is merely the closing of one chapter in my teach ag superhero story, and not the end of my book.

 

Thank you all for your continued support over the past few years, and I look forward to sharing my teach ag adventures of the next chapter of my teaching career. Have an amazing rest of your school year and keep using your teach ag superpowers!

 

-TM

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