Student teachers are nothing new at local schools, and especially not in the agricultural classes at the secondary level. With Utah State University and its renowned ag program churning out potential instructors in the next valley, Bear River has had its share.
This year is no exception. Bear River Valley native and USU student Kevin Hull has teamed up with local ag teacher T. J. Rhodes for the trimester, which runs through the end of April. Hull is teaching four of Rhodes’ five classes, ag science 1 at Bear River Middle School and floriculture greenhouse at Bear River High School. It has been an amazing and rewarding experience for all involved.
You see, Hull is legally blind. “The doctor calls it visually impaired,” Hull stated. “I don’t see any color, I’m color-blind. I see some light, some images.
“It’s hard to explain,” he continued. “I can’t say how much I can see. I don’t know what you see, but you don’t know what I see. I have as much vision as anybody. I have the camera, too, just not as much film as everyone else.”
But he doesn’t consider his limited vision a barricade to becoming a teacher, just a minor inconvenience. After all, Hull has dealt with it since he was diagnosed with pars planitis in the first grade. The disease has the body thinking the eye is an intruder and attempts to get rid of it.
An alert teacher noticed a problem with young Hull’s eyes and strongly suggested his parents take him to a doctor. Immediate treatment stopped the disease from continuing its destruction, but most of the damage was already done.
It didn’t stop him from moving forward with his life, however. He graduated from BRHS in 1992, served an LDS mission and even attended a year at USU. He went back into the classroom in 2009, choosing age education as his major and animal and dairy science as his minor.
He came by his choice naturally, he said. “I’ve got it in my blood. My mom’s dad was a dairy farmer and my Grandpa Hull had a pear orchard. My grandparents gave me the desire to tell the story of agriculture because it is an important story.”
His USU professor Brian Warnick, once an ag teacher at BRHS and Hull’s supervisor, said he was confident Hull would find success at his old school. “I knew this would be a good spot for him,” he said. He is a hard worker. I had no concerns he would figure out how to solve any problem that came up.”
And he has. Hull has found ways to work with his students without the full use of his eyes. As is common in such cases, other senses have been enhanced. He can hear the tiniest of whispers, can pinpoint smells. “I have a good ability to memorize,” he said. “I can go through things once or twice and they are in my head.”
He has used those abilities in Rhodes’ classrooms. Both Hull and Rhodes admit things weren’t perfect in the beginning, as both were heading into unchartered waters.
Read more about Hull in this week’s Leader.