Submitted by Denair High School
Name: Molly Hanson
Family: My parents live in Clements along with my brother, who is attending MJC, and my sister, who is finishing her senior year at Utah State University. The rest of my family is located throughout central California, with a concentration in Dos Palos, where my mom’s side farms.
School: Denair High School
Subject taught: Ag Earth Science, Ag Biology, Ag Leadership, Floral Design 1 & 2 and Intro to Ag
Experience and education: This is my first year teaching high school. I got my bachelor of science degree in agricultural communications from the University of Wyoming and my master’s in agriculture education from Cal Poly.
Why most inspires you about teaching? I am so inspired by students when they get excited about the material we’re learning. It’s a fantastic feeling to have them energetic about it because the energy is kinetic in the classroom. When one gets excited, the rest do, too.
What are your biggest challenges as a teacher? My biggest challenge has been to keep up with all my classes and to mold myself into the best teacher I can be. Boy, it is tough and there’s been some tears, but then a struggling student gets an A on a test and it makes all the difference.
What is your favorite teaching tool or activity? “Jeopardy!” I was shocked at how well the students responded to it! We use it as a tool for test prep and they love to play and have said numerous times how much it’s helped them remember the material.
How has Common Core affected your classroom strategy? Ag has always been pretty closely aligned with Common Core; it’s not uncommon to incorporate multiple areas into our subject matter, so it fit in nearly seamlessly with our area. I also learned to teach with Common Core so it was a little easier for me to adapt to it since it’s what I’ve been using since I started.
What do you want your students to remember? My hope for everyday is that students remember the material we cover and it reaches them. Every teacher does. Above that, I hope students remember me as a caring, concerned, loving teacher. Every single one of my students means something to me and I love them all.
How can parents support what you do? Parents e-mailing and calling with their concerns is incredibly helpful. Supporting our Ag Boosters and the FFA program as well as their student helps so much. Just encouraging their student and reminding them how important their grades are for their future academic endeavors makes a huge difference.
What will it take to improve academic success in DUSD schools? I think the thing I’ve noticed the most with our students at the high school is they haven’t had a sense of stability from their teachers and staff from so much turnover in the recent years. I think once they’ve had the chance to see the incredible changes that new Principal Kara Backman has made and the wonderful staff she’s added to our continuing staff when they let their guard down, things will improve. We’re definitely headed in the right direction.
What’s next in your classroom? We have an amazing opportunity with growing our ag program with the space we have. I’m looking forward to growing as a teacher and helping our department take the next steps to becoming stronger and even better!
What would surprise people about your job? People are always amazed at how many hats an ag teacher wears. We’re teachers, advisors, mentors and work year-round. People are always surprised with how many different subjects I teach, too. I’d be lying if I said it was easy, but it is so rewarding.
What do you do for fun? I am a big fan of heading over to San Francisco for the day and exploring. I’m a huge foodie, so any opportunity to try new foods from Michelin Star restaurants to food trucks and hole- in-the wall spots, I’m totally down.