One of Decatur High School’s newest teachers, Meghan Woodall, has only been in Wise County for a couple of months, but it already feels like home.
Although she graduated with a master’s degree in agriculture education in 2010, she didn’t start her teaching career until Monday after working at stock shows for the past several years. Woodall said she was waiting for the right opportunity to come along – namely, an ag teaching position at DHS.
Not only would it give her a chance to work with a successful ag program, she also gets to work with her mentor and former high school ag teacher, Jim Allsup.
As a freshman at Calallen High School in Corpus Christi, Woodall was a student in Allsup’s intro to ag class. She also worked with him through FFA both her freshman and sophomore years before Allsup left Calallen for a job in Decatur.
She now finds herself teaching the very class Allsup once taught her.
After graduating high school in 2005, Woodall attended Texas A&M University. It was there that the mentorship between the two really began.
“Throughout college, he was my right-hand man to call on,” Woodall said, adding that she’d often email him to get his feedback on projects she was working on.
After college, Woodall began an internship in the livestock office of the San Antonio Stock Show, and that led to a full-time position in the horse show. Allsup would introduce her to Decatur FFA students when they would attend the show. It gave Woodall the opportunity to see both the success of the program and how much support it received from the community.
Those factors, plus Decatur’s rural atmosphere, drew her to her new home.
“The city life might be for some people, but I grew up in a suburban-type area outside of Corpus, so I wanted a more rural environment,” she said. “The interactions and the connections are a little bit different when you are in a smaller town.
“Definitely the success Mr. Allsup has seen inspired me, and then just knowing how much the community wraps around the program, that’s important as an ag teacher to have that support.”
Her interaction with students participating in area leadership camp this summer gave her even more peace of mind that she had found the right place.
“To get to meet the kids and see the kids take on their leadership roles and working as a team, that was really inspiring to me,” she said. “It also kind of reinforced that Decatur was where I wanted to be and needed to be.”
Allsup said he’s wanted to teach with his former student for a long time.
“When I called her and said Decatur has an opening, she turned around 30 minutes later and said she had her application in,” Allsup said.
He believes her experience working in the industry will bring a level of expertise to the ag program, which includes teacher Joey Brooke in addition to Woodall and Allsup.
The trio should make a good team, Woodall said.
“Mr. Brooke is our shop and ag mechanics guru, Mr. Allsup is the horticulture guy for sure, and then my background is in animal science,” she said.
After 25 years of teaching, Allsup knows not all of his students will enter an agriculture-related career, but they can all learn important lessons nonetheless.
“If they can come in here and learn about leadership and work ethic, then we’ve done our job,” he said.
As of this school year, he can witness firsthand how those lessons students learned in high school can carry into their careers.
And he’ll still be there to offer any advice to his former student and fellow teacher.