Agriscience teacher Scott Poague is back home at Elmore County High School where it all started for him as a high school student.
“Mr. (Turner) Porter influenced me a lot in high school,” Poague said. “My dream was to come back (to ECHS) and teach when he got ready to retire. I worked my way around and eventually got to come back home.”
He said the Eclectic community is special.
“First, the community is just special place in my heart,” he said. “It means a lot to come back and teach in this very building where I was a student. It’s just one big family here from the elementary to the high school. It’s just a good community.”
After graduating from ECHS in 2000, he attended Auburn University where he earned degrees in the fields of agriscience and education.
From there, he taught at two other high schools for 13 years.
Four years ago, he moved to ECHS.
Poague said he knew from an early age he wanted to earn a living in agriscience.
“I grew up in my dad’s farm store,” he said. “I knew I wanted to do something related to agriculture. Being in education and the agscience fields allow me to do lots of different things.”
His daily class schedule includes agriscience, metal fabrication, landscape design and construction.
“I wanted to go into education to teach the kids the importance of these fields,” Poague said.
Poague said he is pleased to see educators focus more on trade education.
“There has been a big change in the system in the last five to eight years to get kids into career tech fields,” he said. “Not every kid is going to college and we still need tradespeople. I’m really glad our state put emphasis in getting kids into career tech fields.”
He encourages his students to explore what jobs are available to them.
“I tell the kids life is too short to not like what you’re doing,” he said. “Find a good trade that you can make a healthy living at. Several students have gone on to work at Thompson Tractor as mechanics.”
His work in the classroom has paid off for many of his former students.
“The ones willing to get out and learn a trade, most of the time it is not glorious work,” he said. “I’ve had several kids go through the welding program at Trenholm State. They go out and be very successful. I’m starting to see my former students get successful careers. That makes me feel good.”
Part of Poague’s career preparation involves knowing what skilled jobs are available.
“Pipeline jobs right out of high school lets them get out and see the country,” he said. “They can make some really good money and learn a good skill.”
He said even if his students do not end up farming or going into construction as a career they will have knowledge they can use as adults.
“I tell my kids as ninth-graders, ‘I’m not here to make a farmer out of you,’” he said. “’I want you to be able to make an educated decision to know where your food and fiber come from.’ I encourage them to know the basics of electrical work. One day they will be homeowners.”
Poague said his immediate future is to continue teaching ECHS students.
“I love what I do here,” he said. “Maybe the 25-year mark I’ll retire. I have a small lawn and landscape business. I think I want to explore that. I may venture into something else depending on what the good Lord has planned for me.”