BY KAREN CAMPBELL
Weakley County Schools Communications Director
WEAKLEY COUNTY (July 8) – The public may have assumed when the Summer Scholars program concluded that schools and teachers had the next few weeks to put their feet up and enjoy some well-earned rest. But Weakley County Schools rarely sit completely still. One good example is the ongoing work of the district’s ag teachers.
“Ag teachers are 12-month employees,” explained Lindsey Parham, Career and Technical Education Supervisor. “Someone has to keep the Weakley County Livestock Production Farm running, ready the machinery for the upcoming year, oversee students at camp, conferences and work-based learning. Our ag teachers give us 20 days a month and sometimes more during the summer to cover these tasks and more,” she added.
While Jason Kemp continues to manage the farm, Kyle Rogers, Matt Humphrey, Jonathan Holden, Archie Rich, David Hochreiter, and, part-time, Jessica Browning have devoted their summer days to tasks such as Supervised Agricultural Experiences (SAE), weeklong camps, and maintenance on equipment.
More than 140 students are involved in SAEs which can be placements with area farms and businesses or personal projects encompassing beef, equine, and grain production as well as mechanics and food services.
Westview will be taking students to the Washington Leadership Conference this month.
Among the maintenance projects on which the teachers are focused on ensuring the CNC machines are ready for production in the fall and readying the greenhouses including the equipment for hydroponic growth.
Dresden FFA provided hydroponic lettuce for use in the DHS cafeteria in May. Nutrition Director Trista Snider says lettuce from the ag depts from DHS, Westview and Greenfield will be incorporated lunches for the upcoming school year.
Keisha Stafford, DHS Cafeteria Manager, said the lettuce was both good to look at and to eat.
“The lettuce was beautiful!” she reported. “It is always a pleasure to be able to serve something to our students that they have had a part in watching grow. When we told the students that it was grown at DHS they immediately wanted to try it and everyone that tried it loved it.”
To ensure that facilities are ready for teacher in-service on August 1, registration on August 3, and the first day of classes August 8, administrators will be spending the next few weeks overseeing facility upkeep and improvements. They will also be meeting to set the course for the 2022-23 academic year.
“We know friends and neighbors sometimes look at the summer as ‘paid leave’ for our teachers and administrators,” acknowledged Assistant Director of Schools Betsi Foster. “In fact, the salaries our 10-month and 11-month employees receive in the months they are not at the schools are monies they earned during the school year that are simply stretched to cover the summer months. They’ve earned every cent and the rest.
“School systems like Weakley are definitely strong but also delicate. It takes a great deal of finesse to make sure everything works as smoothly as possible,” she added. “We are fortunate to have such dedicated teachers and leadership committed to making that possible.”