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      If you would have asked me how I liked student teaching after the first week, I would have gave you a standard response of “it’s going good” or “yeah I like it.” If you would have asked me the same question around the end of February/beginning of March, I would have said “I hate this; I can’t wait until it’s over. I’m never going to teach.” If you would have asked me about student teaching today, on my last day, I would have burst into tears, which is exactly what I have been doing the last 24 hours. Everything I have been through the last four years has led me to this point: figuring out my purpose in life. Although I wasn’t sure up until this point, I can wholeheartedly say agricultural education is where I belong. As I sit here and reflect on this entire experience, I am overcome with emotions. I am beyond blessed that I had the opportunity to student teach at Elizabethtown with Mr. Anderson and work with his students. I am so sad that these 15 weeks are over and my student teaching experience has come to a close. I am anxious to see what lies in store for me next; they always say when one door closes, another one opens. Most of all, I feel whole. I have a lifetime of memories I will carry with me for the rest of my life. I have figured out my purpose in life and have grown into the young professional I was meant to become. I can’t help but think back to the beginning of this entire process. I began contacting and visiting schools in March of 2014. I visited four schools and selected my top three; none of them being Elizabethtown. In fact, I didn’t know anything about Elizabethtown! As April rolled around and our student teaching placements were announced, I was very surprised to learn that I had been placed at Elizabethtown. I was actually more than surprised…I was angry and upset! How could they place me at a school I knew nothing about without any prior warning?! Why were all three of my top choices given to other student teachers and not me?! I cried the day I found out and in turn was dreading student teaching. I shouldn’t admit this but I had even considered dropping my major I was that upset! I now realize how extremely foolish I was at that time. After visiting Elizabethtown for the first time in April of 2014, I knew that I could not have had a better placement! Mr. Anderson is one of the most down to earth, realistic, hardworking, kind hearted, and funniest individuals I know. We had a great connection from the start and I quickly realized how much I was looking forward to student teaching. He has helped me in more ways than he even realizes throughout this entire experience. He has helped me grow and prosper as a student teacher and even more so as a person. He has provided me with advice, personal experience, honest opinions, and friendship. We have shared so many laughs and jokes together; ones that have helped me get through stressful times that come with student teaching. He truly is a selfless, inspiring individual and I will miss him greatly now that my time at Elizabethtown is up. Arguably he biggest thing I have learned through all of this is that if you aren’t happy, nothing is ever worth it. Were there times throughout this experience that I was stressed, tired, miserable, and dreading going to school the next day? You bet there were. But were there times when I was excited beyond belief to teach a unique lesson, attend an FFA conference, share jokes with my students, and work with students until I saw a lightbulb go off? Even more so. I realized that while not every day will be good, there certainly is good in every day. I have had so many instances when I was having a bad day and the smallest action turned my day right around. I realized that no matter what job you have, you will always have a bad day. That’s life. What matters is how you handle that bad day and what you do to turn it around! Everybody tells you about the impact you will have on your students, the difference you will make in their lives, you will be a “positive agent of change,” etc. but nobody really tells you the difference your students will make in your life, the impact they will have on you. Maybe it’s just because I’m a big softie but these students, all 54 I had in my classes and the countless others I have interacted with through FFA, have taught me a lesson and impacted me in their own individual way. Every single student from the straight a college bound seniors to the disadvantaged lower ability level underclassman have left their mark on me. Each student has a story; some are more open to share than others. My eyes have truly been opened from this experience and I have realized that not all students are as lucky as I was. Another big question I have been getting asked from those around me is what’s next? You graduate in two weeks, what will you be doing?  My response is typically the same: “I’m not sure what’s next but I know I want to teach.” I have applied for many jobs, not all of them teaching, just to have something to fall back on. I know the right opportunity will arise in God’s timing; putting my faith in Him assures me that I will end up just where I am meant to be! Would I love to have a job lined up by the time I walk across the graduation stage in two weeks? Absolutely! Do I have a full time job lined up at this point? Nope. But honestly, I am okay with that. This experience has taught me to be flexible, patient, and reassured me that it’s okay not to have it all figured out. Having a plan is great but things can change in a split second. You need to trust the process, have faith, and remain persistent. As I walk out the doors of Elizabethtown High School for the final time today, there will be tears. I know I will see some of these students again at the FFA banquet next month but it won’t be the same. I know that one day I will have the opportunity to have a program of my own, be a mentor like those who have mentored me and helped me reach this point. I know you can’t reach every student, but I have learned that every student can reach you. This was proven true when I found myself stuffing 54 goodie bags, signing 54 individualized cards, and baking 8 dozen cookies to show my students and my cooperating teacher just how much this experience meant to me.

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