"Tell me and I'll forget. Show me and I might remember; involve me and I'll learn; and that's what I try to get the students to do," says Jerry Williamson. He may have the greenest thumb in all of Opelika. The high school horticulture teacher grows not only plants, but helps students blossom for the future.
12th grader Drew Weaver says, "he teaches people work ethic. He knows when you get out of high school, you're not going to have everything handed to you on a silver platter. So he teaches you to work for things and to be able to work with others; and that really helps you in other areas of life."
Classmate Beth White adds, "he's a really nice guy, I've enjoyed both classes I've had with him. He not only teaches us really well, we have fun while we're learning."
This is Williamson's 21st year at Opelika High. His classroom is filled with Future Farmers of America awards his students have won, and he's no slouch himself. Assistant principal Kenneth Oliver says, "he's an excellent teacher and he recently won an award for being the best teacher in the state of Alabama for career technical programs."
The expertise Williamson shares with his students isn't confined to school greenhouses. His classes beautify Opelika. "One of our courses, landscape design, we go out and actually landscape buildings, public buildings. We built a city park in the past for the community and it lets them see that working together we can all accomplish a lot," says Williamson.
When he came to Opelika High two decades ago there were 32 students taking horticulture classes; today there are 250, and each year the school has to turn students away.