Substitute hired to teach ag at Fruita Monument

A long-term substitute teacher was hired earlier this month to teach classes for Fruita Monument High School’s agriculture program, one of two positions at Fruita schools that have gone unfilled since the unexplained administrative leave and resignation of two teachers.

In an email sent to Board of Education members and parents Monday, Principal Todd McClaskey said Randy Cooper, a retired District 51 teacher and current substitute teacher, would take over teaching the high school agriculture classes until a permanent replacement is hired. Cooper taught at Mount Garfield Middle School before retiring in 2010, according to district spokeswoman Emily Shockley.

The position at Fruita Monument as well as the agriculture teacher position at the Fruita 8/9 School became vacant after teachers Ryan and Jennie Hudson were placed on leave over the summer. Both resigned earlier this month. District officials have declined to explain why the Hudsons were placed on leave.

McClaskey said while Cooper started working at Fruita Monument on Sept. 6, it took a few weeks for school administrators and Cooper to decide he was a good fit as a long-term substitute.

“When a substitute comes in for math, they pretty much know what they’re in for,” McClaskey said. “This is a very unique position, and we wanted him to get in there and check it out and see if it was a good fit.”

In addition to a 35-year career in District 51 and the Moffat County School District, Cooper has experience with wildlife conservation and construction, McClaskey said. He will teach welding, agriculture construction, wildlife management and power and machinery classes.

The part-time position at the Fruita 8/9 school is still vacant, McClaskey said, but efforts are underway to place ninth-grade students in high school classes.

“We’re very committed and very proud of our (Future Farmers of America) and ag program and very committed to continuing the program,” McClaskey said. “It provides a lot of relevancy for our students and provides for partnerships in the community.”

McClaskey said an additional temporary job at the high school was created to further assist in the agriculture shop with construction, welding and small engine projects.

Teacher Janelle Beach will continue to teach agriculture biology, animal science, greenhouse management, equine science and natural resources/outdoor recreation. Beach also oversees the FFA chapter at Fruita Monument.

The school’s top priority is finding qualified coaches to help students prepare for upcoming FFA competitions, McClaskey said.

Community members who are interested in coaching students in agriculture mechanics, veterinary science and livestock evaluation can contact Brian Pendleton or Janelle Beach at 254-6600.


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