Sometimes it just takes one person to suggest a career that changes lives.
For Doug Perry, agriscience teacher at Choudrant High School, he never considered teaching until one of his own teachers suggested it in high school.
“After talking with a student teacher’s supervisor my senior year of high school, I decided to go to Louisiana Tech in agriculture education,” Perry said. “I honestly never planned on teaching. I was considering pursuing an agriculture business degree. The Tech faculty member convinced me that any company that would hire someone with an ag business degree would also hire someone with an ag education degree. I had a positive experience with Mr. Track Kavanaugh at Dubach High when I did my student teaching. Mr. Kavanaugh has been an excellent mentor during my teaching career.”
Even though he had individuals encouraging him to teach, Perry said it took a while before he himself was convinced.
“I spent five years working on my undergraduate degree, swearing I would never teach,” he said. “It was not until my student teaching experience that I felt I might want to consider teaching. It took about five years of actually being in the classroom for me to realize that teaching is what I was meant to do for a career.”
And his was no doubt a good one, as Perry was named this year’s Teacher of the Year at Choudrant High.
“It felt good to be recognized for the activities I have done with my students this year,” Perry said.
Perry said he looks for ways to encourage students in the classroom.
“I try to reflect on lessons that I teach and look for ways to make improvements,” he said. “Asking students for their input can often be valuable. Also discussing activities with other faculty and my administration has been beneficial many times.”
He said he tries to use hands-on learning as much as possible.
“While searching for activities we could do at the start of COVID-19 concerns, we started a sidewalk garden in front of the ag department two years ago,” Perry said. “We created wicking tub containers and planted a fall crop. Each class had its own tub and selected what crop to grow.”
This project incorporated plant and soil science and continued in the spring with traditional home vegetable crops, Perry said.
“We also discussed the importance of pollinators and butterflies,” he said. “We decided to plant some flowers and milkweed. At the start of the 2021-22 school year, we had monarch caterpillars appear on the milkweed plants. After watching wasps turn our milkweed plants into an all-you-can-eat buffet, we researched ways to raise the caterpillars in captivity. We raised and released 138 Monarch butterflies this fall.
“We learned the best thing we could do to help the monarch population, as well as other pollinators, is to plant nectar producing flowers and milkweed. We have researched, designed and planted a pollinator garden in the area around the school flagpole. We are excited to see this project next spring.”
Even though Perry has been teaching more than 20 years, he said he still finds joy in the work.
“I continue to teach because I find it rewarding to work with young people,” he said. “I enjoy my job! I can honestly say that I have made a positive impact on the lives many of the students I have taught.”
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