Last month I attended the Golden Apple Teachers for Tomorrow Conference where I was fortunate to be in the company of inspirational teachers, along with students who aspire to be future teachers.   The conference featured resources that are available to educators (such as our Ag in the Classroom), as well as break- out sessions led by Golden Apple Award Scholars and leading educators. 

The Keynote Speaker was Mr. Rives Collins, a Fellow in the Searle Center for Teaching Excellence at Northwestern University.  He is also a professional storyteller, who spoke of the power of a story.  One of the first questions he posed to the audience was to picture a person who had a major impact on our lives.  He asked us to think about that person and hold it in our mind while he spoke.  He then took us on a wonderful journey filled with storytelling and many references to a beloved author of his, Joseph Campbell.  Some quotes from Campbell included, ““If the path before you is clear, you're probably on someone else's.”, “We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”, “The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.” He was captivating, funny, touching and insightful; all you would want from a keynote speaker and more. 

At the end of his talk, he asked us to raise our hands if the person we pictured in our mind was a teacher.  Many in the room raised their hands and he indicated that more times than not, the person who has had the most profound impact on us are teachers.  Certainly in that room you saw teachers who were having a profound impact on students.  Teachers who took their entire Saturday on a beautiful fall weekend to learn how to be better and to learn how to inspire their students to do better.  Some teachers even drove some of their high school students to the conference to show them what possibilities exist for them should they decide to be teachers. 

Mr. Collins said numerous times during his talk, “thank you for being teachers. It is a noble profession.”   You might not want to wait until Teacher Appreciation Week at the end of the school year to send a quick thank you to any of your teachers during this time of Thanksgiving.

 I’ve got many things to be thankful for this month including the kindness of Mr. Carol Ropp who touched a student during our Leadership Academy by naming her newborn calf after a student while we toured her farm. This girl will never forget that moment and for that I am thankful.  I am also thankful for the kindness of the agriculture community and our members who always goes out of their way to help our programming for the students and teachers of Cook County.  Ag Literacy could not be what it is without your support.  Thank you and Happy Thanksgiving!