San Perlita resident earns top award with help of students

SAN PERLITA — Katherine Wolfe thought small-town ag teachers couldn’t get far in Texas.

But in San Perlita, she found out good students can help an ag teacher get to the top.

Last month, Wolfe won the Texas FFA Foundation’s Ag Teacher of the Year award.

“I was very shocked,” Wolfe said. “With our school district being so small, I thought it was going to go to a teacher in one of those congested parts of Texas.”

“Our school is very small,” she said. “There hasn’t been a lot of recognition for our chapter in the past.”

Wolfe beat the odds.

“Being a female ag teacher is being a minority,” said Wolfe, who’s getting ready to start her third year with the district.

But Wolfe just helped her students make San Perlita history.

“I have been blessed with talented students who have allowed me to grow and turn the program into such a successful one,” she said.

For the first time in its history, the district climbed to the state finals, with its livestock judging team competing among Texas’ top schools.

It was team member Sierra Rhodes who nominated Wolfe for her award.

“She has done more than teach,” Rhodes wrote in her nominating essay. “She has opened doors and helped a chapter make a name for itself.”

But Wolfe helped make even more local history.

Last year, Cameron Chappell became the district’s first student elected officer of FFA Area 10, which stretches from the Rio Grande Valley to San Antonio.

And he credits Wolfe for helping him get there.

“I never realized what else was out there, how competitive the livestock judging events were, what an honor it would be to be elected to an area office,” Chappell said.

As part of the contest, San Perlita’s FFA awarded Wolfe and Rhodes $5,000 grants.

In ag class, Wolfe said, she passes along a special lesson to her students.

“You don’t have to be a cowboy or a cowgirl,” she said. “There’s something for everyone. I’m encouraging them to find something special that’s in them. With science, horticulture, mechanics and machinery, I show students the different opportunities we have.”