Spending more than 30 minutes in Wanda Lacy's advanced placement calculus class at Farragut High School, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam seemed quite engaged. That carried over to the school's science lab, watching students dissect small animals, before a final stop in the library to congratulate the 2016 Admirals football team for winning a Class 5A state championship.
Coming to FHS Monday afternoon, May 15, Haslam's visit was prompted by Lacy, being one of 17 members statewide on the Governor's Teachers Cabinet and a former state Teacher of the Year honoree.
Students took turns writing math equations in Lacy's class on the white boards. Haslam watched and asked questions as a pair of students, Adam Cook and Kevin Chen, used a long, complicated differential equation to determine how long a boiled potato would take to cool once it was removed from a pot of boiling water. “That’s very impressive,” Haslam said as the demonstrations ended, then asked, “What makes Mrs. Lacy a good teacher?”
“She teaches you to think,” Austin Brown said.
“She allows us to work in groups together,” Kelly Bond said.
“What’s one thing you learned from her that you would do if you were a teacher?” the governor asked.
“She stresses learning, not grades,” Caleb Bradley said.
Haslam got a laugh from everyone when he asked, “Do your parents fell that way?”
“She helped us prepare for the AP exam,” Eric Wang said. “Not all teachers do that.”
The governor’s next stop was the science lab where he talked to students as they were dissecting fetal pigs, rats and flowers.
State Rep. Jason Zachary [R-14th District that includes Farragut] joined Haslam to formally congratulate the football team, assembled alongside all coaches in the school’s library — doing so in the form of a proclamation, read by Zachary on behalf of “the state of Tennessee,” and in comments from both politicians.
“As a Knoxville boy who is living in Nashville because that’s where my job is, I get a little tired of hearing how good Middle Tennessee football is,” Haslam said. “And so you all, coming home with that gold ball [trophy] is kind of nice. Now I can say, ‘see, they play some serious football over there.’
“Secondly, I love not just that you won, but the way you did it,” Haslam added about FHS coming from 28 points behind twice to win during the playoffs. “… One thing that came out loud and clear was the character of this team. I’m not surprised knowing your coach [Eddie Courtney] and the other coaches.”
However, Haslam advised the student/athletes, “don’t let that be the highlight of your life. … Build on this, but don’t rest on it.”
“As a 95 grad of Farragut, this is extra special for me to be here with you guys on behalf of Tennessee,” Zachary told the team before introducing Haslam.
“I think it was great,” FHS principal Ryan Siebe said about the visit. “The visit from the governor was obviously to highlight an incredible teacher, but he was also able to see the kind of well-rounded school we are as far as science and math and then athletics as well, so we’re really glad to have him.”