Tom Hall, OVATA PresidentIt seems like only yesterday I was working at the OSU Dairy as a milker and junior herdsman. Current technology found me typing very “important” papers for Dr. Cole on my used Apple IIE. My junior block field experience sent me to Scio High School under the guidance of Gary Temple. I had a wife, a toddler son and a beater pickup (which didn’t make it to Scio and back a few times!) During my senior year, my student teaching assignment sent me to Amity High School under the tutelage of Roy Whitman. Dr. Cole thought Roy would take the “rough edges” off of me. This, of course, was probably the only mistake Dr. Cole ever made!!

It’s been 20 years and two high schools since then. My first year at Willamina High School is like a blur. I made my fair share of mistakes. Luckily for me, my memory is going, I have forgotten most of my misery I lived through that first year! I actually thought about early retirement my first year on the job! I sure did make some good friends and met some good people while I was there.

Over the last nineteen years, I have fallen into life in my little home town of Bonanza. I graduated from here when I was a pup, played basketball, some football and learned to dislike Lost River High School from an early age. I was kind of falling into a rut, same old thing year after year. Our little school has turned out quite a few state and American degrees, snared a few state proficiencies, landed a few state banners and even cranked out 3 state officers.

I always figured I was about average on the old Ag teachers scale. Just do my job, try to do it right and stay out of trouble. I started out in our “all male” district as the rookie. Here I was actually the youngest teacher in our district at one time! Now, you’d never guess but I’m the oldest teacher in a “mostly female” district. I’ve had to grow up some! It used to be a dictator but, now I am a firm believer in democracy.

What I thought was the most amazing worthwhile thing that ever happened in my career as an Ag teacher (besides not winning the Whitman Award) was receiving the Honorary State FFA Degree about five years ago. I finally felt like all the years and work had paid off. Now I could sit back and help score, eat doughnuts and watch the rest of you guys work. Curtis North nominated me for this award and he will receive Christmas cards for rest of his life. Thank you Curtis and the rest of the state for this honor that made my career make sense.

This past year has added a brand new chapter to my story. You, my peers have bestowed upon me not only the opportunity to serve you as this years OVATA president, but this year at the National FFA Convention, I received the Honorary American FFA Degree along with my long time pard, Roy Whitman. I almost feel like knocking out the next ten years now! O

ther than sheer entertainment, I thought I would leave you with a few things to think about. We all had to start out someplace. It never starts out as a pretty picture. We make mistakes, get depressed, and feel like quitting. The older I get the smarter Dr. Cole gets. We meet some good people along the way. Once you get those lesson plans done you can breathe once and a while. Bite off only what you can chew; you have a family that needs you also. Pick your battles. The list can go on and on…

Most of us don’t look for a pat on the back, but being recognized by our peers is a wonderful thing. Look around your district this winter; are there fellow instructors that are deserving of any recognition? Any young teachers doing an outstanding job? Any young teachers that need a pat on the back or need some encouragement?

As we go into the Christmas holidays, reflect on the many positive things that you do for your students, school and community. You all do good work; it is greatly appreciated by all who live in your area. I personally give each and everyone of you a pat on the back for a job well done. Merry Christmas and I’ll see you next year!!