Sunday, March 30, 2014

Going Back - Education and Influence is More Important Than I Thought

The feedyard is in full swing, and our new record system is becoming my friend. Well kind of. The major portion of the DEQ project is complete.  I was thinking life is about to get a little easier.  Every time I think that, I believe God grins.  My phone started ringing from our community members, people just letting me know the Ag. Teacher at SEM where the girls go to school was taking another job. They were the most subtle phone calls I have ever received.  I told Jake I am unsure if they want me to take the job or just want me to know.

Jake and I have spoke from time to time about me heading back to the classroom. We decided in less a position opened in the girls' school, with no family here it would be impossible.  Jake encourages me to go back to the classroom. I think he thinks this because I relate everything at the feedyard to teaching.  I have been out of the classroom for three years and those three years have been eye opening and not in a good way.  I spent the first 17 years of my life in the Northern Local School District, among some great students.  I then left and spent 4 years at The Ohio State University mostly with other wonderful Agriculture Education students. I then went straight to work as a teacher.  It was not until this year as we continue to search for a crew that is capable of helping us take the feedyard to the next level, that I realized our work force is horrific. As a teacher I was completely unaware of the incredible problem we have with skilled labor in this country. Not only do we have a problem with skill, we apparently have problems with sobriety and attendance also. It is an epidemic. We are in big trouble and if something doesn't change soon our children may be in bigger trouble.

It was clear to me that the only way I could influence these problems is to go back to the classroom. I was unsure about taking the position, I knew if I took the job I would be jumping in with both feet to a situation that is way more than full time. I know my philosophies in education have never aligned with the political officials passing our curriculum mandates and many times have not always lined up with my administrators. But then, there I was at a 4-H livestock judging event with Jacie talking with a school board member.  We started discussing education and what is important and my thoughts and ideas were spot on with what he was saying.  First time ever!  I decided to turn in my resume and then I decided to interview.  Then a few hours after my interview I took a new job as the SEM Ag. Teacher and FFA Advisor.

I am going back to the classroom with a new plan. In fact I am wondering while in my education career why they don't just have teachers manage a fast food restaurant (not in a college town).  I believe a town's fast food restaurant tells a lot about a towns education. I believe we would really better understand society and what is the least we would allow students to leave our classrooms knowing.

We have really just over complicated education.  I have decided that really I would like to be measured not by how many students pass a certain test, but how many are tax paying citizens 5 years out of high school.  I believe students really only need to leave high school with a healthy self esteem and a work ethic.  However I plan on adding a lot of life skills.  By life skills, I mean skills that students can go to someone and say I can do this and a person can afford and will want to pay them to do it.  These life skills also include a financial lesson in savings, spending and planning. Specifically they include, payroll and the worth of an employee, coming to work on time and ready to work, animal movement, care, multiplication, dosages, BQA certification, animal behavior, quality assurance, how electric fence works, the flow of electrons, affordable health care, welding, following directions, being respectful, working independently, recognizing when to remain silent, understanding your paycheck, cash flow, net worth . . .etc.  

Please send your ideas - I am overhauling my lesson plans starting now.  Please send in all the things you were glad someone taught you in high school and the things that you wish someone would have. I am meeting with the community soon to get their ideas.

I am excited to get back to the classroom with a new philosophy and the same intensity.  It's sure to be a wild ride.

To all my former students, please feel free to leave advice for my new students.

A look at my past career:
Reaping One Last Seed
State Officers
My Move to the Real World - Where Attendance is Still a Problem
Career Development Events
FFA Camp 


  1. Bravo!

    I am glad I knew how to read a recipe and follow it, in order to save money and my health from eating processed/restaurant food all the time. I am glad I could do laundry and clean house. I'm glad I understood basic home maintenance (wiring a light, unclogging a toilet, replacing a faucet washer). How does a septic system work?

    I wish I knew more about engines, about useful animals. I knew something about growing plants, but had never taken on responsibility for a garden, seed to harvest, and I didn't know anything about soil fertility. I still can't really identify trees, which would be really useful for cleaning up overgrown woodlands.

    I'm glad I knew something about health issues - first aid, when a skin lesion is not healing quickly enough, how much of a fever should be tolerated, basic nutrition (though I had no idea until recently about the dangers of added sugar). I wish I knew more about insect bite dangers and identifying poisonous/edible plants.

    I wish I was quicker at comparing financial options. A few young people at church could stand to know more about the new immigration reform measures designed for young people.

    Good luck, and looking forward to hearing your adventures!

  2. I get on these tangents about how, for lack of better words, society is screwed. Our education system is failing to prepare students for the real world. On several occasions, I've told my husband about "this lady that was Hilary Bailey's ag teacher and now she owns a feedlot out west" and how I like reading her blog, because it connects teaching with practical applications. Anyway, long story short, I'm glad there will be someone in the classroom preparing students to be confident, contributing members of society. Good luck!

  3. Hi there! I just came across your blog tonight and we are on the same page!! As to your question...teach your students about doing their taxes, how to prepare for them, and tax benefits that might actually get them excited about saving money...and better yet - making money! ;) Teach them how to use Excel! Teach them that community members might be their banker someday, or their boss. Teach them that it is never Dumb to put everything into a project - you only get out what you put in! Teach your students the important s of being responsible for their own future! Teach them that their hours of video gaming don't add much to their resume but volunteering or working a part time job, even just taking on chores at home give a person some skills. Teach them to find something or a few things they love and go after it full throttle! Learn and do! Be passionate...and certainly don't worry a second about what olé cool Joe thinks! Most likely olé cool Joe is going to still be setting back being "cool" while those passionate ones who dared are making a difference in the World!
    I hope you love getting back into teaching. It is a sacrifice to your family time but a gift to the community. Best of luck to you! ...we actually have a small herd of cattle in NW Iowa. My husband and I both work full time, and life gets a little crazy with 3 children. But raising our 3 kids on a farm was our we sacrifice a lot of would be play time for "farm work". :) Our 13 year old is "The Kid Rancher" on Facebook. This is a page I have been keeping up for him at the moment...which brought me to your blog. Any thoughts on how to segment my thoughts out from his? I'm considering starting my own blog and then sharing it on his Facebook page. I'm afraid readers are conficonfi

  4. So much for edit options...ugh....obviously new at this! Wanted to thank you for the inspiration you provided through your blog. Again, best of luck to you! (I am the world's worst speller..but meant to say "importance" ..oh well...just hate looking ignorant while trying to offer thoughts and advice for educating your students!) Oh...Teach them about leadership! Give them the skills to be confident! :)