TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Marana Unified School District's first day back to school is Monday.
While many teachers are getting their classrooms ready for a group of new students, one teacher is making sure the school's barn, greenhouse and room for mechanics is ready for the next group of those looking to learn a new trade.
Ashley Haller is going into her ninth year of teaching at Marana High School. She teaches a full buffet of trades, from farming, to welding to mechanics.
"We have animals that the school has purchased that kids can lease and show in breeding at the Pima County Fair," Haller said. "And then students can also purchase their own animals. And that's an entrepreneurship work based learning project. They take those to fair, they could take them to circuit shows and then raise them and sell them at the end for profit."
Haller has been recognized for her work as a CTE teacher by Senator Mark Kelly and those on Capitol Hill. She was honored with a advocacy award for a strong CTE program. She says through the years of teaching agriculture, the town of marana has grown and their farms have shrunk.
"Marana has changed a lot in the last nine years. When I first got here, there was a lot of farm fields," Haller said. "There was a lot of traditional Ag students."
With new incoming students having less Ag skills, she says it's made her job all the more important.
"During COVID we realized, you know, some of those really essential workers were skills trades, right?" Haller said. "You have to have people that are feeding you, you have to have electricity, you have to have all of those skills."
From farming tomatoes, to raising cattle, she says students are able to follow their passion.
"I have kids that they have honey bees, I have kids..with gardens at home," Haller said. "I have students...who have stripped down trucks and rebuilt them. Restoring old tractors, they're all very very unique projects that help them get those extra skills and figure out what pathway they want and what career they want."
Haller recommends new students to look at the different CTE classes offered by their school and work to learn a trade. She's had several students who've turned their new found skills into careers.