As I saw them walk into the funeral home my heavy heart lifted, it was one of those moments in the midst of grief that I will remember forever. You see my dad is an agricultural education teacher, and as some of his students walked into the funeral home wearing their blue corduroy jackets and official dress, I couldn't help but smile and take pride in the actions of members in an organization that I have been part of. This action brightened my day, and it is one of the first things that comes to mind when I think of the relationships ag. teachers have with their students.
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I had the unique experience of growing up with several ag. teachers in my life. Mr. Lierz at Jackson Heights High School was my ag. teacher. My dad, who teaches agricultural education at Rock Creek Junior and Senior High School, was my second ag. teacher, and my grandfather even taught vocational agriculture back in the day.
Among each of these ag. teachers who played a significant role in my life as well as the agricultural educators that I continue to meet, I see some common traits. These special people are not just teachers who educate others about agriculture; they are also connectors who help students connect other skills they have learned in school with “real life” application. These special people are not just agriculture educators; they are life educators. They are in the unique position where they can let students know hats will be taken off when you enter a building as a sign of respect, and they can let students know the importance of a firm handshake and eye contact when meeting new people. These special people are not just “paid professionals” from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm; they are community volunteers oftentimes from 4:00 pm to 8:00 am.
Most importantly though these special people are not just teachers and role models; they are people who truly care and get to know students. They work with students who love school and those who don't. Furthermore, they work with students who are involved in every activity taking place at the school, and students who have their one passion in agriculture education and FFA. These special people are the ones who can take well behaved students and not so well behaved students on a school trip and be assured that there will not be any problems. In addition, these teachers are the ones who can go beyond school and truly see what students are like on long trips with lots of sleep, with little sleep, with lots of sugar and caffeine, and with very little sugar and caffeine.
My dad, like many ag. teachers, knows his students so well that when my grandfather passed away this last fall, his students drove 60 miles to stand in their blue corduroy jackets at the funeral of a man they barely knew because he taught my dad right. My grandfather taught their ag. teacher, “People don't care how much you know, until they know how much you care.”
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The relationship and teaching an ag. teacher provides goes so much deeper than just the typical knowledge that a student gains from being part of a class or an organization.
For this reason my CTE Superheroes are agriculture education teachers like my dad!!