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MY FAVORITE TEACHER: Teaching to the community

A Knoxville Ag teacher knows her lessons reverberate far outside the classroom

KNOXVILLE, Ill — Each year, News 8 looks for the five teachers who are exceptional by asking students to nominate MY FAVORITE TEACHER.  Each is honored with an award presented by a grateful student. 

Just like a farmer, high school student Hillary Crouse gets straight to the point.

"This is for you," she said while entering a Knoxville High School classroom.

"You're My Favorite Teacher."

The teacher is Agriculture teacher Mallory Tolley.

But to know Knoxville agriculture teacher Mallory Tolley you have to get out of the classroom...

"She's always reaching out to local farmers and producers to have her students experience planting crops," Hillary said as she read from her letter to nominate her favorite teacher.

That experience might have her students harvesting grapes, setting traps for wire worms, or even learning to weld.

"I just try to touch on all the different possibilities within the industry so the kids can see that there are so many possibilities," said Ms. Tolley.

"She truly lives by the FFA motto, 'Living to Serve'," said Hillary.

And she says her teacher helps open the eyes of students who may know little about farming and farmers.

"They don't just grow plants, cut them down and sell them.  They do so much more for the community."

Whether in a corn field or in the greenhouse filled with Spring flowers for sale, Ms. Tolley is doing her best to grow the next generation of farmers.

"I'm so grateful to have you as a teacher and even consider you my friend."