Agricultural Education for All is a joint partnership of the National Association of Agricultural Educators and the National FFA Organization with the goal of ensuring all in agricultural education feel welcome, safe and celebrated as their authentic selves. Every month in New Teacher News and Teach Ag Times, we will feature some of the outstanding teachers making a difference and creating inclusive, diverse and equitable programs for their students. For more information about Agricultural Education for All, please contact Ellen Thompson.
This month, we would like to introduce you to Keonté Edmonds, agriculture teacher at Heritage High School, in Wake Forest, North Carolina. Keonté is an advocate for agricultural education and a spokesperson for inclusion, diversity, and equity in the BEST. CAREER. EVER!
Who/what inspired you to become an ag teacher? My family has several educators and as the oldest of eight, my mother taught me how to be responsible for other individuals in a caring way with a bit of tough love. My grandfather is my big role model in understanding the value of hard work.
Rest In Peace Papa
What motivates you to continue to teach ag? My students motivate me the most based on the connections created and the desire to mentor each of them whether they go into an agricultural-related field or not.
What advice do you have for new teachers to create an inclusive and safe environment for your students to be their true, authentic selves? Remove all stereotypes and general assumptions you may have or heard from others. Accept people at face value! We are all human and when you can understand that and show it with genuine intent, your classroom will be a place where all may want to be. Listen to your students and always stand up for what is right. Let others know what your expectation is and have fun while teaching to make it relatable to today’s society. The ability to adapt to change is a very valued skill. It can start with something as simple as the music you play, pictures you display, greeting them at a door and other purposeful intentions to get to know them as a human.
What advice do you have for new teachers about being their true and authentic selves in the classroom? Why is that so important? I’ve learned that people respect you more when you are being your true self. It’s okay to not have the answers to all questions and even more importantly to share your unbiased opinions. Participate in theme weeks and have a down-to-earth spirit, so they can also feel comfortable doing so. Building relations is important for student success and showing off your true passion.
Quote that inspires you: “I know my life is better when I work from the assumption that everyone is doing the best they can.” – Brené Brown, Dare to Lead
If you could writea letter to the world right now, with everything that has happened over the past few months and continues to transform America as we know it, what would you say?
Dear World ️ ✊ ❤️,
Don’t let the opinions of others change your influence! We all have the power to influence someone in our lives to make a difference. Over the past few months our lives have changed, some more than others. In a world full of new anxiety, the courageous support from individuals nationwide means more than one can express. Privilege comes in many facets in our society. As a member of the LGBTQ+ community and a black man, it brings me PRIDE to share my voice during times like this. The people beside us can help change perspective by being trailblazers in uncharted territory. Life is full of challenges. How do you love folks that are difficult to love? We as people are on a difficult assignment but there is no such thing as love without forgiveness. As an agricultural educator, it is my passion to educate students with more than just the content, but rather how to love people wholeheartedly. I have a light and energy that speaks for itself and when I see obstacles, I create opportunities. I will continue to educate those I come in contact with, especially our youth, that we all have power in our voices. Let your passion illuminate the world and be an ever-shining light to those around you. This world could be a much better place if we accepted each other at face value and not make life a competition. Know that you have purpose, don’t let anyone take that from you.
"The greatness of a man is not how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively." - Bob Marley