Downwind"Appreciate a Teacher Today!" (Part 2)
Last month, I celebrated May’s Teacher Appreciation Week by writing a column reflecting on teachers that were very influential in my life. I quickly discovered that there were too many influential teachers in my life to fit into one column!
So, I continue with part two of my Teacher Apprceiation column. (part 1 is available at www.cookcfb.org)
During my eighth grade year, Dad and Mom were provided with a new farming opportunity which required another relocation, back to the Aledo area which we left when I was in second grade.
As an early teenager, eighth grade was a wonderful time to move again and attend a new school (I say with sarcasm). As the “new” student, I became reacquainted with many of my early childhood friends from kindergarten-second grade (who wrote me the notes as a part of Mrs Anderson’s second grade class I “appreciated” last month). They seemed really cool and me, not so much…just in time to start those pressure years, high school!
In high school, I was fortunate to have three different Ag teachers/FFA instructors who helped me find my way.
My freshman year, I appreciated my agriculture teacher, Mr. Hennefent, and here is why:
Mr. Hennefent selected me to join him and fellow students, including several high school upperclassman, for a road trip to the National FFA Convention in Kansas City. Through this trip, Mr. Hennefent provided me the chance to mix and enteract with him and the older students in high school, effectively helping me exit my shy shell with a new level level of confidence and surety.
Mr. Hennefent was a teacher with impact!
My sophomore year, I appreciated my agriculture teacher, Mr. Erickson, and here is why:
I first met Mr. Erickson as an eight-year-old in our community 4-H club. Yikes! As an older kid, he intimidated me with his teenage maturity! As my teacher in high school, he provided great coaching in the area of meeting management and public speaking.
As an adult, I feel blessed to be able to interact and work with Mr. Erickson as he returned to farming and eventually became the vice president of the Illinois Farm Bureau. (I always worried that he may have remembered and exposed my many negative traits from high school to the Farm Bureau organization…thankfully, he is too classy to have done so!)
Mr. Erickson was a teacher with impact!
My junior and senior year, I appreciated my agriculture teacher, Mr. Schwarzkopf, and here is why:
It is surprising that I made it through these upperclassman years. Mr. Schwarzkopf and I had a like/dislike relationship. In fairness, I was not very likable. I was a bit full of myself, always pushing the envelope and the freedoms Mr. Schwarzkopf provided as a part of the ag instruction, shop classes, and the FFA experience. I do remember a devastating elbow I received to the jaw on the basketball court from Mr. Schwarzkopf (he said it was inadvertent, not retaliation).
Despite my “know it all” attitude, I learned so much from him during those two final years of high school. Electrical wiring, welding, leadership skills, mechanics, and machinery repair come to mind. Stuff I still use today.
25 years later, I traveled to a Farm Bureau meeting in Ottawa. Prior to the meeting, while taking a moment to use the men’s restroom, I glanced to my right to see Mr. Schwarzkopf standing there in the stall next to me. What a shocker!
Quite a location to get caught up on life!
Mr. Schwarzkopf was a teacher with impact!
During college, I appreciated Illinois State University professor, Dr. Benton K. Bristol, and here’s why:
I had many professors that I could add to this list but the one that jumps out at me taught Farm Safety at Illinois State University. However, it wasn’t the farm safety curriculum that I remember. It was his quirky truths. He made us memorize truths of life that didn’t seem to have much to do with the curriculum of Ag safety. I quickly realized the importance of memorizing these truths of life because they were on his tests! I don’t remember much of the curriculum but I do remember the truths of life that I still use to this day (much to my children’s chagrin): “Everything Matters, Everything Counts” and “Decisions Determine Destiny” popped into my head as I wrote this. When you take these truths of life to heart and reflect upon them, they have a way of influencing your life.
Dr. Bristol was a teacher with impact!
For life, I appreciate my wife, the most influential teacher of all:
The number one, most influential teacher impacting my life is my wife, a junior high teacher and my life partner/coach. Back in college, when we were 18 years old, she told me her goal was to be a teacher of the deaf and hard of hearing. She not only accomplished this goal at the junior high level but has done so with such dedication that through the years, she has impacted countless students to pursue their life dreams in a world that can sometimes be difficult and unkind to the those with perceived disabilities. I am fortunate to have a behind-the-scenes view of how hard she works and how much she passionately cares about each child’s learning circumstances, present and future. Through her continuing examples and in so many other ways, she influences me positively, every day. I am so appreciative!
Mrs. Rohrer is a teacher (and wife) with impact!
Please thank a teacher today!
As the 2021-22 school year wraps up, teachers across the country (including my wife and the Ag in the Classroom presenters) are taking a big sigh of relief to enjoy some summer downtime. Cook County Farm Bureau is proud to have many teacher as members and we hope this summer helps rejuvenate their teaching pride and spirit. I know it has been a difficult few years for teachers but please know your work matters. Thank you for positively influencing so many lives and making an impact!