High school courses are designed with students' futures in mind.
There are science and mathematics classes for future engineers and doctors. There are English and history classes for future business professionals and lawyers. West Oktibbeha County High School teacher Margaret Jordan said it's especially gratifying when her students look at their educational experience and decide they want to become teachers.
"It gives teachers great joy to know the students are preparing (to teach others)," Jordan said, "to have that influence on those students for them to go into the education field.”
This desire to teach took three WOCHS students to the top of the Mississippi Future Educators Association Leadership Competition Jan. 24-25 in Jackson.
The national FEA has existed in various forms since 1937, and its mission is to recruit and develop students as future teachers by elevating the teaching profession's image. WOCHS students Brittaney Dobbins and Jonathan Love placed second in the state-level FEA Technology Video Competition, and Haley Ward placed third in the state-level FEA Public Speaking Competition.
Jordan said this is WOCHS's fourth year of having an FEA chapter, but it is the first time its students have placed at the state level. As a result, the students qualify for the FEA National Conference April 26-28 in Orlando, Fla., she said, but they will not be able to attend for lack of funding from the Oktibbeha County School District.
"(FEA teaches students) how to do lesson plans, how to do classroom management, and all these things that will prepare them to be educators," Jordan said. "It teaches them emergency preparedness, job application, how to prepare to apply to school districts, what types of degrees they should have (and how to take) practice tests to prepare to graduate from college and go on to the education field."
Dobbins, president of the WOCHS FEA chapter, said she and Love both joined FEA because they are considering education careers. The video competition asks students to create videos showing how technology can be used in the classroom, she said.
"In the video we played a clip of how schools were operated back in the old days," Dobbins said. "Our video contained clips from the TV show ‘Leave it to Beaver' and the movie 'Kindergarten Cop.'"
Love said the video then shows how classroom technology has advanced in the years since those clips were filmed. For instance, he said, the video showcases the digital learning management system Schoology and the ways it can make learning easier and more fun.
"We both have really enjoyed being in FEA these past few years," Love said. "FEA has shown us multiple leadership skills that can be applied not only in the classroom, but in everyday situations."
Ward said competing in public speaking enabled her to discuss freedom of speech and expression in schools. She said the topic helped her recognize that students are all entitled to their opinions and perspectives.
"I chose to be an FEA member because of academic standards, leadership skills and the opportunity to change lives," Ward said. "I plan to continue my membership throughout high school, which (will) enhance my future career in education."