16 • Texas Lone Star • August 2018 • texaslonestaronline.org
of the teaching work force. At higher-poverty schools, the rate climbs to 20 percent.
This turnover alone is costing $2.2 billion each year in recruitment and training.
Being there for kids and having a meaningful impact is the reason our teachers work so hard, but sometimes the challenges can be overwhelming. The impact
these dedicated professionals have on our youth is boundless, which is why the
Texas FFA Foundation and Vocational Agriculture Teachers Association of Texas
(VATAT) have partnered to find innovative ways to encourage our teachers.
With support from the Texas FFA Foundation, VATAT offers several major
membership benefits to agricultural instructors that inform teachers about the latest
agricultural practices and encourage higher standards through key programs that
help instructors thrive.
VATAT has created a new mentor program exclusively to support new teachers, who often struggle with juggling classroom management, work and home life
balance, budgets, and managing relationships with students, parents, teachers,
and administrators. The pilot mentorship program is unique because new teachers
are mentored by retired master teachers, who work with only one or two mentees
Mentors personally visit mentees several times a year to observe the mentees
both while teaching and meeting with administrators. There is also ongoing phone
and e-mail communication throughout the year to stay in touch and offer regular
support and feedback.
In addition to the annual summer
Professional Development Conference
planned and conducted by VATAT, the
Texas FFA Foundation hosts an annual
LEAD Experience, a groundbreaking
weeklong traveling leadership event
that focuses on leadership, education,
agricultural science, and professional
development from proven leaders in
target areas. This summer, 37 teachers
will travel more than 1,100 miles to 15
locations throughout the state to hear
from 45 presenters.
Over the last 10 years, agricultural
teachers have personally networked
with executives from Ford, La Quinta,
Justin Brands, McCoy’s Building Supply,
the Texas Farm Bureau, Mahindra, the
Texas Army National Guard, the Texas
Soil and Water Conservation Board,
Texas legislative leaders, and more.
School administrators have a lot
on their plates, and finding and retaining the best teachers is a big piece
of the pie. With the Texas agricultural
science education partners, administrators are not alone. FFA helps
attract and develop quality instructors
who will make a real difference for
The Will to Continually Evolve
The FFA was founded on
cornerstones of teaching respect,
responsibility, and resilience. How-
ever the organization changes, from
broadening inclusion to teaching more
advanced technologies, these three
core concepts remain the same. They
are what make FFA members employ-
able, driven, and capable.
When the FFA was founded in
1929, the emphasis was on vocational
agriculture. Men joined the FFA, and
women joined the Future Homemak-
ers of America. In 2019, the Texas
FFA Convention will commemorate
the 50th anniversary of including
female members. Today, 40 percent
of the 2,000 agricultural teachers in
Texas are women. For the organiza-
tion, it’s a celebration of inclusion
and continually progressive think-
ing, which not only contributes to a
desired culture but also focuses on the
Science and technology developments
engineered by tomorrow’s thinkers can enable
food producers to provide more high-quality
products using fewer natural resources.