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Monday, April 6, 2015

In which the professor closes the door on his classroom

On April 2nd, my husband left the classroom at Kemptville College for the last time. After twenty-five years as a professor of Agricultural Economics, he was shutting the door on that phase of his life. He started a part-time career as a real estate agent a few years ago, so that will be the hat he now wears, until full retirement.
When I was a teenager I considered following in my father Larry Leeson’s footsteps and becoming a teacher. He wasn’t exactly supportive. He said he didn’t want me going into such a stressful, thankless career. Well I’m sure teaching can be frustrating at times but I imagine it is also extremely rewarding. I got a taste of it when I was teaching English as a Second Language in Taiwan but my classes were too short-lived to leave me with the feeling that many teachers have. Teachers are leaving a mark on their students’ lives.
It’s not easy for teachers to break through the distractions to get to their students in today’s classroom. Student rights trump the teachers’ authority in many cases. Just take a stroll through YouTube and you will see dozens of videos of frustrated teachers attempting to keep the attention of the class while students are texting, browsing the Internet or even watching a movie on their laptop. Larry Leeson (Dad) never had to deal with cell phones in the classroom. I doubt a single mobile device would have survived that encounter.
Back to my husband, whom I normally call “the Farmer”. In this story, he will be TF to avoid confusion, because I am speaking about that part of his life that happens off the farm.
As a college / university professor, your students are adults and paying to be in your class. They judge you on your performance and that rating becomes your review and assessment. It’s a bit of a popularity contest – and not easily won if the subjects you are teaching are Math, Business and Agricultural Economics. Teaching, TF says, was never his comfort zone. One on one, yes. He loves the subject matter, he is patient and enjoys tutoring a pupil to success. But standing in front of a large group, the orator in the spotlight, was never his thing. Imagine working fulltime in a position that isn’t your comfort zone. For much of your adult life.
It’s not that he doesn’t know what he loves. He does. He loves building things. TF has joked that if he knew upon leaving high school that an engineer does more than drive a train, he would have taken engineering in university. I said he should have taken it anyway. He would have looked cute in the hat.
TF has built four houses and restored two more. He loves farming because there is always something to repair, move or reinforce in the barn and along the fence line. But if you combine his love of building with his genuine love of business, there you have it. Real estate. Just over two years ago TF decided to study for his real estate license. Now he hangs his shingle at Remax in Kemptville. Already he has been named top salesperson in the office more than once. He has had and sold listings from Cardinal to Carleton Place to Ottawa and many places in between. He truly loves what he is doing.
I love what I do to, but it doesn’t pay much. So we have downsized a bit on the farm, saying goodbye to the things – and the animals – that gave us pleasure but didn’t exactly bring in revenue. We have a healthy herd of beef cattle now, and that will keep us busy in our off-hours. The calves may not be as cuddly as the lambs were but they are a lot less work.
So there is your answer to “what will your husband do?” now that Kemptville College is closing. I look forward to the next incarnation of the campus that I grew up on, climbing trees and reading in the library as a child. My mother worked there for nearly 40 years also, as the director’s executive assistant. The college has always been a big part of my family.

And if you decide to buy or sell a house this spring, I know a really good real estate agent who would be thrilled to help you. Just tell him his Farmwife sent you.

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