Roger Stites is hanging up his hat after 18 years as Sallisaw High School’s agri-science instructor.
Stites, who was raised on a farm, said recently that he didn’t always know he would be an educator, but knew from early on that he would work in agriculture.
“I didn’t know I was going to be a teacher until I graduated from OSU in 1988,” he said. After leaving Oklahoma State University, Stites went to Eastern Oklahoma State University, where he began teaching ag at the junior college there.
Stites attended Sallisaw High School, where he was a member of Future Farmers of America. He said his FFA adviser, Tex Wood, was a huge influence on him, and when Wood retired from SHS in 2002, Stites was happy to step into his role.
When asked how teaching has changed since his career began, Stites said, “there are a lot less rural students and more urban students in ag, and the female population in ag has increased.” He said when he began teaching, there were approximately 75 percent boys in FFA to 25 percent girls. That ratio is about 50-50 now, he said.
Stites said his greatest accomplishment as a teacher is seeing his former students go on to develop careers, “be productive citizens and go out and be successful.”
For students considering becoming ag teachers, Stites offered the following advice: “It’s a great opportunity, but there are lots of challenges, too. It’s a difficult decision. Research it to make sure it’s what you want to do.”
As for himself, retirement won’t mean much rest for Stites, who says he’ll be keeping busy working on his farm, “running a few cattle” and traveling. He will also still be involved with FFA and 4-H, as well as being a member of the Fair Board.
“I’m leaving, but I’ll still be around,” he said with a laugh.
Laura Brown, KXMX Staff Writer
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