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Faithful readers I must say the years just keep going by faster and faster. From spring break to end of the year banquets, then on to fireworks sales and fairs in sunny California the year has flown by and looking back I have a few reminders.

 

  • Live each moment to the fullest

  • Enjoy your students - remember this job is a gift

  • Stay organized - this may keep you sane

  • Find the balance between work, family and time for yourself

 

I was recently at a teachers conference where I heard a guest speaker remind us that we have the power to teach our students about manners, responsibility and service. We must do this in our daily classes. He reminded us that students are taught these things in kindergarden and elementary grades and then we move on to standards and testing and leave these basic concepts behind. This year I am going to challenge myself to create an environment where students are constantly reminded of the ideals that make us successfull, well-rounded, GOOD human beings. I challenge you to do the same, before society gets to overrun with cell phones, ipods and a complete lack of one on one communication.

 

Remind students - everything in life is about choices. Good choices, bad choices and THEIR choices. Everything comes down to a choice.

 

Happy blogging and good luck in whatever your future holds.

 

Jessica Fernandes

Buena Park High School

Alright so it is May and as stated previously times are hectic, papers are piling up it is competitive team season, banquet season and fair season and oh ya the daily duties of the job never went away. I rely a great deal on my TA's and assignments that have keys or scantrons. If you have a lot of assignments to give make it easy on yourself and get some honest students that you can trust to help you out. You would still enter the grades but it is the actual grading that is so time consuming. I have also used peer grading techniques and sometime 2-3 weeks go by and things do pile up. Think of it this way - that pile can't grow legs, it's not going to walk away - it will still be there when you have time to get to it.

 

Don't sweat the small stuff - enjoy the kids and try not to stress out!

For the last 60 days we have been gearing up and gathering all of our Orange County Fair animals. Our fair is at the end of July. Our program continues to grow by leaps and bounds and nothing expresses it more than animal projects.  In the past I have only taken about 30 animals to the fair as a single teacher program. This past September we added a second ag teacher and involvement went nuts!  This year we are taking 30 pigs, 26 lambs, 4 steers, 6 turkeys, 3 market calves and multiple pens of broilers and meat rabbits.

 

In addition to these projects we also have over 200 laying hens all year around, some breeding sheep and goats, a beef heifer and we farm about three acres of land and are actively looking for more. Every time I tell people all that is going on I suddenly feel very exhausted! However, I agree with Matt - get on with it. This is what we do! It is exciting to see the students succeed!!!!!! That's what I live for!!!

 

Who needs hobbies or fun time anyhow Everyday on this job is fun - So get back to work because if you have free time you must be doing this ag teacher thing wrong

 

Gotta run - animals calling

The day I graduated high school I told everybody I knew the one thing that I never wanted to do was be an agriculture teacher. I said it with certainty that I had a different plan for my life. I loved politics, government and law. I had no patience and I saw that my agriculture teacher lived her job and couldn't see what might be rewarding about that.

 

Four years passed and I had received my bachelors in political science, enrolled in a master's in public administration and received a phone call from my agriculture teacher. She was in need of a long term substitute. Seems the guy she hired met a girl over the internet and after six weeks he quit and ran off to be married.  She was asking me to be her long term substitute. I knew nothing about teaching!! I had put on workshops at leadership conferences during college but never worked in a classroom. Because I would do anything for my agriculture teacher I said yes......little did I know this would change my life forever. I taught for for years, earned the necessary teaching credentials and fell in love with teaching. Worried that I might regret not finishing my other goals I quit and returned to politics for a year.......I missed the students. I suddenly realized there is nothing on this earth that you could do for a job that would be as personally rewarding as watching kids succeed.

 

My life took another turn when I took the job I currently have at Buena Park in 2006. It is kind of a funny story. I had quit my last teaching job because my high school had decided they wanted me to teach five periods of history and no agriculture, I decided that was not happening. I figured five years teaching - probably not meant to be and I was headed back to politics.  My phone began ringing off the hook. They needed an ag teacher at Buena Park. I tried for various reasons to turn the job down four times. I finally came to an interview two days before school started only to have them say: "What do we have to do to get you to take this job" I told them they were crazy, I had never run a department on my own, let alone one in trouble, such as this one. They were so supportive and convincing I said yes.

 

Five years later I can honestly say that has been the best decision of my entire life, aside from my husband! I found my home at Buena Park. The program has taken off from the measley 65 kids to the projected enrollment next year of 544 in five years! We have completely remodeled the facility, added classes that earn college credits, and garnered numerous awards. The experience has been AMAZING!!!! One of my proudest moments has been when I was recognized as State Star Advisor last year. On teach ag day every year I share this story with my students. I take the time to encourage them to be open-minded to their career opportunities and remind them that if I hadn't been open-minded I wouldn't be here and life for me would probably have been very different.  When exploring your career opportunities - say YES when a door opens you never know what you will find!!!

Bleed Blue and Gold

Posted by Jessica Fernandes Feb 24, 2011

FFA week has always been a favorite of mine and my students!! You have to be just as excited if not more than the kids so go and buy blue and gold gear!! At our school we strive to involve as many kids as possible in the festivities by making the activities welcoming and accessible. We also give lots of points for participation. Our week goes like this:

 

Tuesday - T-shirt Tuesday (students wear their ag shirts and they get 2pts) (We have t-shirt tuesdays every tuesday but normally they are only 1pt)

Wednesday -  After school - Say the FFA motto, memorized get 2 FFA pts and put into a drawing for $20 cash)

Thursday - Wear any ag shirt (conference or otherwise) 2pts & Monthly FFA mtg 2 pts

Friday - Wear blue and gold (2pts), Take a yearbook picture at lunch (2pts) and go ice skating (2pts)

 

This year we included our whole school staff by picking 8 FFA Facts printing them and attaching them to candy bars. We then put them in the staff boxes and asked the staff to share the fact with their students. If students wanted they could write down the fact get the teachers signature and on Friday every signature is worth an FFA point.

 

WE LOVE FFA WEEK!!

 

Since I write from the sunny state of CA I feel as though I should share a few things that are different in CA that some of you may not know.  In CA every student is automatically a member of the FFA. The chapters are responsible for paying the dues of every students once they are enrolled in the class. Also, the grant money we receive requires us to hold them responsible for all three circles: classwork, ffa and sae. Most teachers use a grading rubric of 60%, 20%, 20% respectively. In my chapter students are required to get 40 FFA points each semester and 50 hours each semester. For FFA chapter activities are worth 1pt, section 2pts, region 3pts and state 5pts. We offer over 200pts each semester in a variety of different activities. We go above and beyond to make sure that students who are involved in other activities such as sports, church, family, etc can meet their obligations by offering two 20pt opportunities each semester such as canned food drives 20 cans = 20 pts or sell 20 turkey raffle tickets = 20 pts. that allow students to reach their grade requirement and not feel conflicted by their other commitments.

 

Having been an active FFA member when I was in high school I "bleed blue and gold" and want to share this organization with every kid I meet! FFA had a profound impact on my life and it is awesome to see even the smallest experience make as profound of an impact on them.

 

I put a challenge to you to "bleed blue and gold"&  love that corduroy and everything else will work itself out!

Good afternoon fellow bloggers,

 

Sorry for the delay in blogging but the time just seems to get away from me. Today I would like to talk about how important it is to get your program out in the public light, in the newspaper, on banners or by word of mouth - you've got to get the word out!! We all do soooooooo much in our classrooms, our after school programs and our extra or co-curricular activities. We care soooooooo much about the kids and providing them with every opportunity possible but on average we are very modest and do not see the benefits of publicizing all the good we really do.

 

The Buena Park High School Agriculture Program went from practically being shut down five years ago to being revived and thriving with two full-time agriculture teachers. The second one added this year in 2010 - which is during one of the worst budget crisis within the last fifty years.  We send every activity to the newspapers, we regularly publish items on our school marquee, we are constantly passing out recruitment brochures and flyers about things going on - just making every effort to get the word out!!!

 

The next piece of the puzzle is to put it in an NAAE application or the application at the state level.  Much of our success has come from our 2009 designation as the NAAE Outstanding Agriculture Program. People began to believe what we had been selling all along! This program is good for kids!! So whether it be the program applications or the teacher applications, fill them out!! Get over your modest self and brag!! Career Technical Education has always had its rocky road we have to promote our programs and our abilities to maintain POSITIVE VISIBILITY!! How can you ask for support when you don't tell people your here???

 

So the next time it is time to fill out an award application don't put it off, don't say I don't know what to say....right everything down, think about the great things you have done and get the recognition due to you and your program!! In the end all good press gets great results!!

 

If you would like to see our Outstanding Program Application or some of the things we do check out our website at www.buenaparkffa.com

 

Also, attached is our recruitment brochure. Have a happy valentines day and president's holidays.

 

Jessica Fernandes

NAAE Convention

Posted by Jessica Fernandes Nov 30, 2010

Seriously, the best professional development event I have ever attended!! More workshops than you could dream of going to, awesome opportunities to interact with fellow teachers and so much stuff to see, do and take home!!  I have been teaching for 11 years and have attended many conferences. 2009 was my first NAAE conference experience and it made me ask - why do I go to any other conferences. Become a member, go to the conference, experience it for yourself and you will see that there are only amazing benefits to this organization!!

"Guest Speakers"

Posted by Jessica Fernandes Nov 23, 2010

It was an early Friday morning this last week. Worried students would be squirly and unruly because we were getting out for Thanksgiving break - I can honestly say I was not looking forward to conducting our soils lab in Ag Earth Science. My skepticism would soon be put aside, my mood brightened and the day looking up. My assistant, Samantha showed up with Starbucks! Samantha (Ms. V) is a senior at Cal Poly Pomona, studying to be an ag teacher and working for us at Buena Park High School forty hours a week. She works with the students on their SAE's primarily poultry and beef and she is our vegetable team coach as well as our farm hand. Samantha has been looking to get more classroom time. She helps out with our ornamental horticulture students, and lately she has been enrolled in some soils classes at college. Samantha came through the door, saw that we were doing soils testing in my freshman classes and immediately became excited like a little kid at Christmas. She began asking me all sorts of questions about the soils lab.  It became clear very quickly that Samantha needed to teach class today. I announced to each class that we had a guest speaker. Ms. V, many of them know her from their farm projects but they were excited to see her! To see the kids faces light up as Samantha shared her knowledge of soils was amazing!! I assisted during the lab, students were involved, interested and learning, did I mention their behavior was flawless! Samantha's performance lit a fire under me too! She was great with the students, a real natural. Her and I both knew that the true test would be fourth and fifth period with 36 and 41 wonderful freshman right before lunch!!  Honestly folks - I am in utter amazement and shock, we are in the tenth week of school and the students just exhibited the best behavior I have ever seen. Again, even with that many students - they were all engaged and excited, talking with Ms. V about teaching ag, soils and FFA, it was inspiring.

 

Alas I have been enlightened again - the day before a big holiday students can still be engaged and excited to be in our classrooms!! Samantha overcame the challenge like she was an old pro. I remembered how much the students gain from guest speakers, unique experiences and outside opinions. The day made me thankful for my job my students and the people like Samantha that I work with.  Despite the everday grind of science standards, farm management and paperwork the light in the students eyes is INSPIRING!!!

 

With a new invigoration my top ten reasons to be an ag teacher:

10. No two days are alike

9. There is always a new project to sink your teeth into

8. Student Engagement

7. The ability to make science more exciting for students

6. The ability to educate the students and the community about agriculture

5. SAE projects

4. FFA activities

3. Student leadership teams

2. Inspiring co-workers

1. Student SMILES!!

 

It truly is the best job you could ever have!! - Even on the rough days when we are just tired, we get to make a difference!! If you are not already doing it - you should start today!!

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