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Tiffany Morey

Dear Ag Teacher

Posted by Tiffany Morey Jun 22, 2017

Dear Ag Teacher,

 

I never got to meet you, but you are pretty dang lucky. Why, you might ask? You were the person chosen to replace me as the ag teacher here and to take over an amazing program. I'm sorry I never got a chance to sit down with you and tell you all the things I am about to write. I hope that you are reading this, and if not, that someone will pass these words onto you.

 

Let's start with the classroom. You have inherited the largest, nicest, most modern room in the school. It has everything you could possibly need to teach your CASE courses. I worked really hard to create the ideal ag learning facility and sat down with the architects to design the layout of the room and wrote a grant to make it happen. Believe me when I say, it is much better than the former tiny fishbowl of a classroom and the district storage depot of a shop that the ag program used to have. You will never get to experience the joy of coming into a room full of broken furniture only to find a tractor, golf cart, Gator, mini van, or lawnmower in your teaching space. You also won’t ever have to worry about your class being interrupted by a delivery and the room becoming freezing cold from the garage door being open. For these things, you are very lucky.

 

Your closets and cabinets are stocked with the  non-consumable supplies and LabAids kits needed for each CASE course as well as lots of extra items. The cabinets and closets also all lock, which means nobody will steal your stuff. Each student lab station, as well as the teacher demo table at the front of the room, are fully equipped with the basics needed for science experiments, including LabQuests, electronics, and glassware. The drawers have lab coats, aprons, glasses, and disposable gloves in all different sizes. The goggle cabinet at the back of the room has splash goggles for every student, and the UV light works when it comes time to disinfect them. The fridge and stove are new and work perfectly. The incubator and water bath also are in full working order. The microwave is for science use only. I've seen the things that have been in there and believe me, you don't want to ingest anything that's been heated up in it. You also have three working sinks with hot and cold water. The cabinets closest to the door are loaded with every type of arts and craft supply you could ever need, and the pencil sharpener works like a charm. For these things, you are lucky.

 

The greenhouse is in better shape than when I got here. The water pipes were replaced last year. Be glad you weren’t here when they burst  the week before Christmas and turned the greenhouse and staff parking lot into an ice skating rink. The heating system probably won’t work the first time you put it on. Maintenance knows what to do to fix this. The ventilation system is automatic and should work fine. The shed next to the greenhouse has pots and planting supplies. The aquaculture tank needs to be fixed. The students cleaned everything this spring. For this, you are lucky.

The FFA chapters are in good standing with the state. All paperwork has been submitted, and all the bills are paid. Both accounts have some money in them to get you through the first part of next year. The metal cabinet in the closet has the jackets for both chapters, as well as scarves, ties, and extra chapter t-shirts. There are multiple types of station markers for the officers when it comes time for meetings, and the officer team is of a quality that I dreamed of working with for my entire career. The members are the best you could ever ask for. They’re dedicated, passionate, reliable, and aren’t afraid to try new things. Both chapters have members who radiate their love for FFA, and they will work hard to make their chapter the best it can be. For these things, you are lucky.

 

Your students are the best. They are the coolest, kindest, most hard working kids I’ve ever had the opportunity to work with. They LOVE ag and enjoy the challenges presented to them by the CASE curriculum. Their creativity and ability to solve problems will blow your mind. Teaching them has been the greatest experience of my life. Leaving them is the hardest part of losing my job. For having the chance to work with students like them, you are insanely lucky.

 

The program is in your hands now. I left it far better than I found it. Hundreds of pounds of trash and junk and thousands of hours of hard work later, it is clean, organized, and well stocked.  It is the product of 4 years of my blood (literally-I have the scar from where I had stitches), sweat (the room didn’t used to have air conditioning), and tears. I wish you good luck, and I hope you will take good care of it. You have inherited something wonderful, and the sky's the limit in terms of it’s potential.

 

As for me, I’m still searching for where my road leads to next. Know that my time in the position that you now occupy was the best I’ve ever had. It not only taught me to teach, but to teach well. I hope it treats you the same way.

 

Wishing you the best,

 

The Former Ag Teacher

 

Wes Crawford

It's Not You, It's Me

Posted by Wes Crawford Jun 12, 2017

Tap tap tap – Is this microphone still on?

 

Well hello there.  You, like my students after National FFA/NAAE Convention, may not recognize me due to my prolonged absence.  I am supposed to be one those Day in the Life bloggers, you see. My name is Wes.

 

In my defense, I’ve been meaning to write this post for quite some time.  Even picked out the title in mid-March.  Have had about 40 different possible opening lines mentally composed during idle drives between locations, minus those times the speakerphone has been operating on my phone.  And then of course there were all the different topics I considered shareable.

 

Examples:

  • Hello from Canada, Eh!  (We took an FFA team to Ontario, Canada to compete in the North American Envirothon last July)
  • That One Time We Ate Chicago Style Pizza in Chicago…at 3am (Flying to national convention didn’t go as planned)
  • What Happens When You Put Three Hundred Ag Education Advocates at the Table?  (Our ag teacher association hosted 14 round table town hall meetings across the state in October and November)
  • Everything is Easier the Second Time, Right?  (Our daughter arrived in February, bringing the home-child population count to two – man-to-man coverage now.  I’m sure I’ll be writing about this more than once later on.  Yes, I will write later!)
  • Results Happen When Hard Work Happens (Our students had a great state convention in March competing in leadership CDEs after a long winter of prep)


So now it is June, and I write this in the final minutes of the last day of the school year.   But I am going to get it posted, so it counts in this school year. I am only 90% failing in my authoring duties here.  But know that it is my fault, not yours.  I am delinquent in the most pressing advice I give my fellow teachers in Oregon: to be sure to tell your story of the great things your program is doing for your students.

 

But what a year it has been. On the ag ed front, the best part of 2017 will be that – in comparison – 2018 should be much more laid back.  I have been cursed with good kids who do great work, and have gotten amazing results.  So while we may be hustling around National Convention next fall, it is a good problem to have.

 

On top of all this, the ag teacher corps here in ORE have been sprinting a marathon as the legislative session carries on.  Three years of planning, preparation, and discussion have culminated in a busy legislative session advocating for increased resources for FFA and Ag Education. Naturally, we have found ourselves seeking funding in a year when our state is facing a $1.4 billion shortfall thanks to rapidly rising expenses to go with the increasing revenue of an improving economy, but what fun would it be if it was easy?

 

Despite the uphill climb, it has been gratifying to see the outpouring of support for ag education and the demonstration of ability of our students in this process.  We put hundreds of blue jackets in front of legislators during capital visit days, was complimented on excellent testimony in legislative hearings, and recognized for the strong and statewide presence our supporters have shown during Legislative Road Show meetings across Oregon.  While we are 28 days away from the deadline (but who's counting), and the final result is still very much up in the air, we can take pride in the way our Agriculture Teachers Association and communities have elevated the presence and prominence in our state, from our smallest communities to the most densely populated metropolitan areas.

 

So, here’s hoping the Submit button still works in this column (CoP management has probably forgotten I still have a proverbial key, really), and that I can get this post in to count on my tenth year of teaching (a fact breaking betting pools across the land).  It was not long ago that I challenged my seventh year to bring it on, and those wide-eyed freshmen students just walked the graduation stage last week.  It really takes no time at all.

 

Enjoy the summer all, and make the most of it to sharpen the saw for next year!  We'll see you in year 11.

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