By: Courtney Fulton
Agriscience Education/International Studies
Last month, I completed my Early Field Experience at Ridgemont High School under advisor Mrs. Stephanie Jolliff.
During my time at Ridgemont, I was able to be a part of “Ag in the Classroom Day” at Ridgemont Elementary, where high school students educated younger students on topics such as feed rations, alternative energy, hydraulics, and seed germination. We also participated in two other events at the elementary, “Edible Car Day” and “Field Day”.
It was great to see the unification of the district as students of all ages came together to learn throughout my experience. I helped students with their shop projects as well, as the freshmen were making birdhouses and upperclassmen were creating metal projects of their choice. During our time in the shop, I learned how to plasma cut and grind metal, which was so much fun!! I even had the opportunity to teach Mrs. Jolliff’s classes on the last day, which was a very different but positive experience!
Outside the classroom, I attended a variety of meetings with Mrs. Jolliff including building and district wide staff meetings, a grant meeting, a meeting on National Chapter applications, and an ‘At Risk’ students meeting.
I had so many wonderful experiences packed into my two weeks of EFE, but through it all I was also able to gain a much deeper perspective on education and the difference that a compassionate and dedicated teacher can make. At the ‘At Risk’ students meeting, we met with the principal and guidance counselor to discuss several ag students who had failed core classes and were working to make plans for improvement. I was surprised at the names that were mentioned because even after a short time, I knew that these were students who exceled within Mrs. Jolliff’s classroom. It appeared that these students were using FFA as an outlet. Even though they hadn’t had the easiest road, they had found a safe place within the FFA and other staff members recognized that. Legitimate plans were made for each student and many involved doing extra work for Mrs. Jolliff that would transfer for various other credits (like writing papers on agricultural topics for English).
I was thrilled to observe the impact that my cooperating educator was making on her community and on each individual student. It was truly inspiring and I am excited to be a part of an industry that can impact people for the better in ways like these.