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