As a business teacher at Scott County Central High School in Sikeston, Buddy Alberson is quick to mention his favorite part of leading the classroom.
“I enjoy those ‘aha’ moments when students realize what they can do with the material they’ve been taught,” he says. “I have a sense of pride in the school, which I graduated from, and the relationships I have with my students.”
Buddy took the “scenic route” to his teaching career, working first as a radiology technician. When a health emergency waylaid his work in that field, fate took him in another direction.
“My mother was the superintendent’s secretary, and I visited her one day at the school,” Buddy said. “The superintendent was having trouble with his computer, and I fixed it for him.”
The superintendent asked if he knew a lot about computers, Buddy said yes, and the school hired him for an elementary school computer lab position. That was in 2008. Buddy stayed at the elementary school for several years before moving to the high school in 2014 as a business teacher and Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) advisor. Last year, Buddy took 18 of his FBLA students to the state competition – a first for Scott County Central.
“Just because you’re from a rural area, don’t sell yourself short,” he told them.
Buddy initially got involved in FBLA as a high school student in 1994. He became the sole advisor for Scott County Central High School in 2014. Through those years of participation, Buddy has risen to serve as president of Missouri’s Professional Division, the post-college arm of FBLA and Phi Beta Lambda (PBL), which is the college-level branch of the career-and-technical student organization. In early 2016, he was appointed as the national vice president for the Professional Division.
“Members of the Professional Division can be involved in FBLA, even though they’re out of school and in the work force,” Buddy says. “They judge competitions and use their experience to coach kids who are entering competitions.”
Buddy is hoping to form a new scholarship through Missouri FBLA-PBL to help more students attend college.
“There are already some small scholarships available,” he said. “I’m hoping to offer additional funding to augment the existing scholarships, so other kids can have the experience I have had. FBLA made me who I am.”
As a national and state FBLA-PBL officer and a full-time teacher, Buddy has a jam-packed schedule. So do many of his students who are balancing their schoolwork and extracurricular activities. Buddy says he tries to teach them the importance of meeting deadlines, of being punctual, of leadership and honesty, and multi-tasking.
He tells them, “If I can do it, you can do it.”
Buddy says he hopes to inspire his students the way his own teachers inspired him. He says his teachers made lessons interesting and made him want to learn.
“When my students see me having fun in the classroom, it transfers to them,” he says. “We have a one-to-one relationship that makes me feel young and is really important for them in such a rural district. I try to create a comfortable environment. If it’s too strict, kids can’t learn.”
It’s that comfortable environment and Buddy’s example that are inspiring his students to reach for their goals.
Photo credit: Leonna Heuring, Sikeston Standard-Democrat