When it comes to high school agriculture teachers and FFA advisors across Indiana, it would be hard to find someone who has invested more of their own personal time in that role over their career than Mrs. Pam Meyer.
“I need to thank my family because they gave up a lot because I was here [at the school] a lot,” said Pam Meyer as she fought back tears reflecting on 26 years of teaching agriculture and advising FFA at Southwestern High School in Shelby County.
Pam has just retired having been at the school since 1996. She first started her teaching career at Eminence High School in Martinsville, but took several years off when her daughters Carol Ann and Brooke were born. Pam says she decided to take the teaching job at Southwestern when her daughters were old enough to go to preschool. She and her husband Rob continue to farm near Fairland, Indiana.
She says her job was always more than just being a teacher. Pam thought of herself as an investor in the lives of her students and their families.
“A lot of ag teachers develop those relationships with the brothers and the sisters and that’s just part of the fun that I had with it,” Pam said. “It is an investment and when you’ve got the parents on your side and the kids are on your side, lots of things can be accomplished.”
Pam thinks she knows why so many of her students over the years thought of her as their favorite teacher.
“I tried to only make sure that I gave them things they had to know that would be useful to them,” said Pam. “Plus, I didn’t give them homework because I knew everybody else had [given them] homework.”
Pam says teaching high school agriculture is a lot different now than it was when she first started.
“A lot has changed. I just had a boy that’s really interested in precision agriculture, technology and drones. At the [Indiana FFA] State Convention, they had some drones from Ivy Tech, and so I was able to bring that paperwork home and show him,” says Pam. “I’d like to think that the kids can keep up with that because they are more technological now.
Pam says one of her greatest sources of pride is the high school’s greenhouse that she helped raised money to build. She loves how that greenhouse is a hands-on teaching tool for students.
“It’s great because a lot of times our nemesis in the greenhouse are aphids. [I can teach] the kids [and] will show them pictures. I love it when they come running to me and say, ‘We have aphids in the greenhouse,’ because I know they really learned that and they’re going to know that the rest of their life.”
What’s next for Pam now that she’s retired?
“Well, I have a grandbaby now and one on the way and I’m going to take care of them a couple days a week.”
In addition, Pam said she will help lend a hand to the school’s bus drivers.
“I told the bus drivers I would substitute for them because they all own their own buses and there are no subs [for them], so I told them I would do that so I’ll still be around.”
Most of all, Pam said her 26-year long teaching career at Southwestern High School wouldn’t be possible without the love and support of her students and their families.
“I need to thank all my kids and the parents,” Pam said as her eyes began to tear up. “I just thank those people for letting me take part in their lives and trusting me with their kids.”
Click BELOW to hear C.J. Miller’s news report on Mrs. Pam Meyer’s retirement from teaching agriculture and advising FFA at Southwestern High School in Shelby County after 26 years.