A Teacher We Met: Terry Cornett

Agriscience teacher Terry Cornett

Agriscience teacher Terry Cornett uses his class to review math and science concepts.

Agriscience teachers prepare students for one of the nation’s oldest and most-rewarding industries: growing safe and healthy food. Terry Cornett makes agriscience come alive for his students at Liberty Middle School in a rural segment of Hanover, Va. A 30-year teaching veteran with tremendous enthusiasm and deep knowledge of his subject, Cornett has dramatically changed the way that agriscience is taught at our school, involving students in both the skills and mission of community farming.

Previously a physical science teacher, Cornett recognized how much his students struggled with math and science concepts. With that notion in mind, he incorporates more of those critical subjects into his agriscience teaching. “Teaching kids how to think and generalize concepts is vital,” Cornett said. “Agriscience allows me to teach cross-curricular (concepts). Students are gaining the theory from their content classes, then I am able to provide the opportunity for practical application in my class.” (Read how the Department’s Blueprint for Reform supports students receiving a complete education that includes science, technology, engineering, and math.)

To fully engage students in science, Cornett has encouraged them to become more involved with award recognition programs. This year, he has reintroduced FFA (formerly Future Farmers of America) into the agriscience program, and students grow and sell plants from the school’s greenhouse. They even had their organically grown greens used in salads offered in the school’s cafeteria.

Students Chase Buchannon, Matt Downey, and Clay Welton

Left to right: Students Chase Buchannon, Matt Downey, and Clay Welton cultivate their Farm to Table garden and their love of learning.

Under the “Farm to Table” banner and working with Liberty Middle’s home economics teacher, Cornett’s classes have become immersed in promoting locally grown agriculture through education, community outreach, and networking. Farm to Table enhances marketing opportunities for agriscience students; encourages family farming, farmers’ markets, and preservation of agricultural traditions; influences public policy; and furthers understanding of the links among farming, food, health, and local economies. In addition, Cornett is looking to get more involved with First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign next school year.

“Helping to keep traditions alive for our farming community is rewarding,” Cornett said.

Lisa Coates
Lisa Coates is a Teaching Ambassador Fellow who recently spent time observing Terry Cornett while teaching at Liberty Middle School in Hanover, Va.

Review information about rural schools from the Institute of Education Sciences.

Learn more about Rural School Achievement Formula Grants.

Read a blog article from a student of Lisa Coates, Raquan Moore.