Stamford High School welcomed a new, yet familiar, face in their Agriculture Department with the arrival of Rode Merryman, a former student teacher under Brad Bevel during the previous spring semester. A native of Clyde, Merryman was an Ag student in high school, receiving his Lone Star Farmer’s degree and American Farmer’s degree and even continues to raise show pigs, a family tradition for nearly 40 years. His father, a former nine-year Ag teacher and administrator, helped Merryman shape his principles that would make him the teacher that he is today. This allowed him to begin his teaching career for Stamford after graduating from Tarleton State University, receiving his teaching degree with a minor in animal science. Merryman revealed that while studying at Tarleton he worked as a school bus driver for Stephenville, which helped him in his decision to work with students.
“I really enjoyed that, getting the inside [view] of how kids are outside the classroom. Putting 50 to 60 kids on a bus can be a lot of chaos, but I really enjoyed it. It takes a special person to do it. Once the kids kind of understood that this is what I want, this is what we’re gonna do, it was a blast,” Merryman said. Merryman would soon make his way to Stamford and receive his student teaching under Brad Bevel, who was instrumental in helping Merryman obtain a position in the department. Merryman related that on the last day of his student teaching assignment, Bevel told him that an Ag teacher was leaving and wanted to speak to him about applying for the position. Although he had interviewed for at least two other schools, Merryman knew that he liked the teachers, administration and the students, making the decision easy to be at SHS.
When speaking about his experience as a student teacher, Merryman stated how Bevel would pull him aside and remind him that tomorrow was another day to start over, giving him pointers on how to improve each day and gradually giving him more responsibilities as the semester wore on. Even with his own classroom, Merryman continues to use the same skills he learned during his student teaching experience to help in his planning, such as using a daily schedule visible by himself and students to stay on track. While the lesson planning process can be overwhelming, Merryman shows confidence in breaking down lessons and keeping his students involved.
“I like doing bigger projects that kind of all go together. A couple of the classes, [for example], are working on resumes. Some of them don’t know anything about a resume, I think it’s a good skill to at least get them started in it,” Merryman said. When asked about how he relates to his students, Merryman stated he uses his experiences as an orientation leader for Tarleton in bringing hands-on activities into the classroom, remembering how boring it was for him as a student to sit in a desk and take notes. He resolves to bringing in team building activities and asking questions of the students in order to keep them engaged in the lesson. Although he presents himself as someone who can joke with students, Merryman maintains a mutual respect with his students, defining a clear line between student and teacher that continues beyond the classroom, building a bond of mutual respect with his students.
When asked about his proudest moment in teaching, Merryman said that when students come up to him and thanks him for teaching them something, even if it only took a little bit of time out of the day, it helps reinforce his decision to be a teacher and gives him a “rush of energy” that helps him carry on, especially when he felt like he was not getting through to a student. For his classes, a freshman class as well as three shop classes and three leadership classes which are all comprised of sophomores, juniors and seniors, Merryman hopes his students will develop good leadership skills that will affect their entire life after high school.
Mr. Rode Merryman looks forward to a good year in Stamford as he helps future Bulldog graduates achieve success.