An “unprofessional” reaction


Recently, I had the occasion to attend a banquet, celebrating the 100th anniversary of our state’s ag teachers. Having previously been an ag teacher myself, before training ag teachers at the college level, the meeting was a rare chance to reconnect. Among those in attendance, were many of my former students, who are now retired.

Back then, because I spent four to six hours, every day with the same group of students while they were on the student teaching block, I developed a much closer relationship with them than most college professors get to enjoy. 

I had a bit of a reputation as an old-school educator. Even in the 1980s and 90s, I required professional dress from my student teachers. The young men were expected to wear ties every day and the young ladies were required to dress professionally in pantsuits, dresses or a skirt and blouse. No blue jeans were allowed for either sex. I also required professional hairstyles for men and women, and, if the men had facial hair: mustaches and beards were to be kept neatly trimmed. I’m sure I couldn’t get away with those demands today.

On the last day of class in the late 1980s, I had a group of student teachers, for which I had prepared my typical final lecture, trying my best to inspire the newest crop of ag teachers and FFA advisors in their last meeting before taking on the world. As I entered the classroom, all of them were holding their heads a little low, reluctant to make eye contact, with each resting the side of their head on their right hand.

Sensing something wasn’t quite right, I started the class by stating, “Last night was your last one as a carefree college student, so I trust you got everything out of your system, so that you can now start your professional career as a teacher.”

The self-appointed leader of the group slowly rose. In a voice that was low and barely audible, he said, “Doc, we are really sorry to let you down, but we all got very drunk last night and had our ears pierced.”

At that point, with shame in their eyes, they all lowered their hands, and I could see diamond studs in each of their right ears. I immediately began a most unprofessional rant, then shook my head, embarrassed for myself, as well as the students.

Abruptly, the entire class exploded in laughter, as every one of the future educators removed their fake earrings.

Jerry Crownover farms in Lawrence County. He is a former professor of Agriculture Education at Missouri State University, and is an author and professional speaker. Jerry’s daily exploits on the farm are now viewable on YouTube at “lifeissimple678”. To contact Jerry, go to and click on ‘Contact Us.’


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