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Board selects replacement for retiring ag teacher, FFA adviser

posted Dec 20, 2016, 11:32 AM by Kathy Hughes   [ updated Dec 20, 2016, 11:33 AM ]
cole headshotCourtesy of Nelson County Times

The Nelson County School Board during its monthly meeting last Thursday approved the hiring of Cole Ramsey as the new agriculture teacher and Future Farmers of America adviser at Nelson County High School.

Ramsey will replace Ed McCann, who will retire at the end of the semester.

“He’s got the passion, he’s got the drive,” McCann said of Ramsey, “and that’s what it takes.”

Ramsey, 23, did his student teaching with McCann and graduated from Clemson University this semester with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural education and a teaching certification. He’s a native of Augusta County.

“It’s really good to be able to take the position that has such a good history to it. Mr. McCann is a great teacher and an amazing mentor to me,” Ramsey said in a phone interview. “… I’m very excited to be able to work with the students of Nelson County. … The kids in the Nelson County agriculture program are really second to none. I definitely wanted to be a part of it and work with great students.”

During last month’s school board meeting, one parent publicly voiced her opinion that the division should hire Ramsey, and McCann said many of his students lobbied for Ramsey as well.

McCann said Ramsey is “by far the best student teacher I had ever worked with.” He said Ramsey’s character and commitment was evident throughout his teaching, as well as early this school year.

During the fall, McCann said Ramsey made the eight-hour trip just to help make apple butter so he would have an idea of the process if he were hired. He made another trip to help with the FFA’s annual bluegrass benefit, as well, and McCann said he wasn’t paid for either trip.

“[He has a] desire for children to learn and to succeed,” McCann said. “He’s willing to invest the time after school and before school.

“You’ve got someone who’s very well-qualified; you’ve got someone that wants to come here and work with our students. So I think that it’s great that the school board saw that.”

Superintendent Jeff Comer said he also is pleased with the board’s decision.

“[We’re] fortunate to find a fully licensed teacher midway in the year, [and] the fact he is familiar with the school, students and the community [is a bonus],” Comer said after the meeting. “He left a favorable impression as a student teacher, and I anticipate he will work hard to continue the tradition that Mr. McCann established with our FFA program.”

Ramsey said he is grateful to the school board and division officials for giving him the chance to carry on the legacy of the high school’s agriculture and FFA programs.

Also during last week’s meeting, the school board presented certificates to the FFA state-winning crops judging team and gave belt buckles and certificates to the second-place national forestry team; the FFA team members also gave the school board members and other division principals and officials mugs as a token of appreciation.

The board gave McCann a belt buckle for his service, as well. Comer said the success of the FFA program under McCann “would rival any athletic team’s success.”

Comer said: “[McCann] gave credit to the kids. He said, ‘Those were due to the kids.’ [That’s] partly true, but we also know it took Mr. McCann’s leadership, support, encouragement, long hours and dedication to make that happen. No question, he’s going to be missed.”

Early in the meeting, members of the high school’s Student Council Association gave a presentation on its recent project, the giving thanks tree. The tree, which was decorated with leaves that showed different things for which students are grateful, served to increase morale and create a positive environment at the school.

At the end of the meeting, Nelson Middle Principal Roger Dunnick presented the school’s improvement plan. Dunnick said the school’s major concerns are cutting down on suspensions and increasing writing scores.

Dunnick said he and Assistant Principal Brandon Garrett have focused more on alternate discipline methods this school year to curb suspensions.

To improve scores, the school has implemented an emphasis on writing by having students write more often and receive feedback from teachers and peers.

“I have no doubt that our writing scores are going to improve,” Dunnick said, “but more importantly, our students are going to be able to communicate better.”