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A professional-level prank

Life is Simple: A recent celebration allowed me to reconnect with former students and remember my teaching days.

Jerry Crownover

August 10, 2023

2 Min Read
 silhouette of farmer leaning on fence during sunset

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 teaching future 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.

Old-school educator

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, moustaches 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 one year 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 this 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 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, and 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.

Crownover raises beef cattle in Missouri.

About the Author(s)

Jerry Crownover

Jerry Crownover wrote a bimonthly column dealing with agriculture and life that appeared in many magazines and newspapers throughout the Midwest, including Wisconsin Agriculturist. He retired from writing in 2024 and now tells his stories via video on the Crown Cattle Company YouTube channel.

Crownover was raised on a diversified livestock farm deep in the heart of the Missouri Ozarks. For the first few years of his life, he did without the luxuries of electricity or running water, and received his early education in one of the many one-room schoolhouses of that time. After graduation from Gainesville High School, he enrolled at the University of Missouri in the College of Agriculture, where he received a bachelor's degree in 1974 and a master's of education degree in 1977.

After teaching high school vocational agriculture for five years, Crownoever enrolled at Mississippi State University, where he received a doctorate in agricultural and Extension education. He then served as a professor of ag education at Missouri State University for 17 years. In 1997, Crownover resigned his position at MSU to do what he originally intended to after he got out of high school: raise cattle.

He now works and lives on a beef cattle ranch in Lawrence County, Mo., with his wife, Judy. He has appeared many times on public television as an original Ozarks Storyteller, and travels throughout the U.S. presenting both humorous and motivational talks to farm and youth groups.

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