Mannsdale Upper Elementary P.E. Coach Rolando Roman shows Farm Bureau officials some of the gardening equipment they have on site at the school.
Mannsdale Upper Elementary P.E. Coach Rolando Roman shows Farm Bureau officials some of the gardening equipment they have on site at the school.

Mannsdale Upper Elementary’s Coach Rolando Roman was in for a surprise last Thursday while meeting with an administrator for a one-on-one session. 

Roman said during session he was asked to walk back to the classroom where he was surprised with officials recognizing him as the Farm Bureau Teacher of the Year. 





This is Roman’s first year teaching school after having worked at the University of Texas and with Aetna in Mississippi for a 20-year career in healthcare.

“I was very surprised,” he said of the recognition. 

Representatives from Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation’s Ag in the Classroom program made the announcement, selecting Roman for incorporating agriculture in his P.E. curriculum. 

“This is a brand new curriculum I convinced the school leadership to allow me to implement,” Roman said. “Every kid will go through my the program.”

Roman crafted the junior master gardener program from Texas A&M University to teach students how to grow their own vegetables. 

Having grown up in a small town in Puerto Rico, Roman said it’s important children learn these basic skills on connecting with nature and coexisting with the outdoors, specifically with gardening. 

“This can be passed along from generation to generation,” he said. 

Instead of just giving the students a ball to play with in PE class, Roman said he wants to teach life skills. Gardening came into play when he inherited garden beds at the school.





Since then, he has expanded the garden, introduced a greenhouse, and even added a chicken coop. The school held its first farmers market this past year and re-invested by buying new supplies.

In addition to the recognition, Roman is receiving an all-expenses paid trip to the National Agriculture in the Classroom Conference in Salt Lake City this summer, and $500 to be used in the classroom.