Being an Ag Teacher is more often a calling than a career. It’s a lot of hard work, time and devotion. Ag teachers are rarely, if ever, in the spotlight because they are the ones shining that spotlight on their students. So, recognition in any way is always welcome, but especially when it comes on a national stage. Krista Pontius, of Greenwood Middle/High School in Millerstown, Perry County, Pennsylvania was one of the finalists in the 'Live with Kelly and Ryan' ‘Top Teacher Search’, and on May 7th she was announced the winner. However, that is only where the story starts.
“I was in my classroom [when I found out]. I actually wasn’t watching it because I don’t have a television in my classroom.” Krista says about the day in question. “To be honest, there was a news reporter scheduled to be there and I was trying really hard to keep my students on task because I knew that he wanted to take classroom photos.”
She was teaching a class on how to measure trees and one of the students needed a pencil, so she went to her desk to get one and saw a text message from her husband. Quickly, about 60 more arrived and the celebration began almost immediately.
Minutes after it was announced that she'd won, the fire alarm rang. The school emptied and standing on the soccer field Pontius found the entire school cheering ‘KP’. They then started chanting ‘SOLD’ and she sang her signature song ‘Sold: Grundy County Auction’ to the entire student body.
“It was overwhelming and humbling to say the least, especially when I looked down on the soccer field and saw my colleagues, who I have such respect for, cheering for me. It was very hard to hold back the tears.” She remembers. Since then, it has been a constant whirlwind of interviews, businesses showing up at the school to give her gifts, and EVERYONE wanting to share their congratulations.
“It is kind of funny,” Pontius remarks, “because the producer from 'Live with Kelly & Ryan' called me the next day to see if I was going to be in the paper. I politely explained to her that I didn’t think that she [understood] the kind of ruckus something like this would cause in a small town.”
All across Perry County there are billboards going up with congratulations, numerous papers have included articles about the event, such as the National FFA, PennLive, ABC, and various agriculture magazines. She has also received a request to be the Keynote Speaker at the Arkansas Career and Tech Ed conference this summer.
And of course, there are the prizes to be put to use. Greenwood is a small school, so Pontius is excited to able to share the money with every classroom teacher in the district which comes out to about $175 per classroom teacher. Though she realizes that it’s not a large amount of money, she says that at least everyone will be able to get a little something for their classrooms next year.
“The Greenwood Wildcats will always be my favorite team and agricultural education will always be my passion.” Pontius remarks. “Although I don’t think that I’ve ever done anything special to deserve a title such as ‘Top Teacher’, I am thrilled that this recognition has brought positive attention to education, especially during a year which has been so full of roadblocks and challenges.”
It is very important to Pontius to share this achievement, because, as she says: “this isn’t about me, it’s about our entire school. As educators we know that we are only as successful as the students, parents, community, and colleagues who support our endeavors each and every day.” Proving that, as ever, she is dedicated to shining that spotlight on others.