"If it was easy everyone would do it,"Tom Hanks in a League of Their Own was on to something, and our Ag Education Legend, couldn't agree more! Mr. Bob Lauffer taught high school agriscience for thirty seven years at Garden Spot High School, the same school he student taught at. His dedication to the profession, accomplishments and joy for teaching are an encouragement to those in the classroom and hoping to be.
|Mr. Lauffer & his students at National FFA Convention.|
His plan: to work at a national park as an interpretive naturalist. He knew a teaching certification would place him on that path, but then he started his student teaching experience, where his plans changed a little... "Truthfully, I never intended to teach," he said. Once he started teaching he loved everything about it, he loved the variety and loved that it wasn't easy. He loved the "teacher as a coach" mode of teaching. A combination of teaching knowledge and skills and decision making and then putting students into situations where they can demonstrate mastery of that skill set. He found that far more satisfying than teaching solely for a test.
Those thirty seven years led him to many accomplishments. Mr. Lauffer is the founder of the Wildlife Career Development Event for the state of Pennsylvania, a project he did for his Master's thesis. He helped develop the state Aquatics CDE and served as the campaign manager for MeeCee Baker, the first female NAAE President. He served on Lancaster County's Ag Ed Organization Board (LCVATA), and held various offices including President and Vice President for PAAE. His favorite memories though, were working with students on community service projects. His school participated in Building Our American Communities. "I enjoyed the way a group of students could identify something they wanted to improve, develop a plan of action, go after the necessary resources and then culminate all the effort and planning with getting it done."
The work of legends goes beyond the classroom. His accomplishments created programs for students to strive for accomplishments and learn about our industry, but it was his dedication to his students and the profession that inspired others to join him. "One of the accomplishments I am most proud of is that 6 of my former students became ag teachers." His advice? "Be open to every experience and glean as much as you can. Always ask the question, how would I approach that lesson if I were teaching it? Is there anything I could do that might make it better? Lastly, be real with yourself, your peers, your professors and once you start to teach especially with your students. Don’t be afraid to admit when you don’t know something and let kids see your willingness to learn from and with them."