Mrs. Tieken & Her Kittens

Seven little heads, seven pairs of paws, seven little meows, and one mother. Except, she’s not who you’d expect.

Mrs. Herbert, better known as Mrs. Tieken, teaches agriculture and floral design at George Bush High School. As of late October 2021, she has been nurturing and caring for a litter of kittens she rescued from the back of the greenhouse of the school campus.

Mrs. Tieken is the club sponsor of the FFA club (Future Farmers of America) and an advocate for animals and wildlife. She’s a campus hero, as she has been caring for some abandoned kittens from the back of the greenhouse on the George Bush campus.

“I found them right over there, under a big pile of wood. I was going to lunch, and I heard them meowing. They were tiny, and the mom ran off and never came back,” Mrs. Tieken said.

Despite the event taking place back on October 26th, 2021, it has been a total of 6 weeks.

“It is six weeks today [since the kittens were rescued],” Mrs. Tieken said.

Since the kittens were babies when rescued, raising them required much work.

“Kittens are really sensitive, so you have to feed them every 3 hours, including overnight. I had to wake up usually two to three times a night to feed them. You also have to clean them up because they don’t know how to clean themselves, and they go to the bathroom on themselves,” Mrs. Tieken said.

Alongside the struggle with hygiene, the kittens also got sick.

“A couple of times, a few of them got sick, so I had to take them to the vet,” Mrs. Tieken said.

Despite their low chance of survival, all the kittens survived but one.

They have a very low chance of living if they’re not with their mom for the first two days, and so I was very surprised that they all lived. One [of seven] did die. The vet said she doesn’t know why, but she thinks one of their intestines wasn’t connected, so it died super early,” Mrs. Tieken said.

Though assumed, all Mrs. Tieken’s efforts towards the kittens were for a great cause.

I rescued them because they needed rescuing. I knew that if I took them to the vet or a rescue place, they don’t have the facilities or the manpower to do the work, and so it has to be someone else to do it,” Mrs. Tieken said.

Due to Mrs. Tieken’s efforts, the kittens also have a happy and bright future ahead of them.

The last week of this semester, I have a list of people who are going to take them. I’m going to keep one and then give them away to kids that I trust at this school [George Bush High School]. Just in time for Christmas,” Mrs. Tieken said.

Many of her students had mixed reactions to the kittens as well.

“Some of them were freaked out because baby kittens are not cute; they just got cute about a week ago. I haven’t let them touch the kittens either because they don’t have the antibodies that the mom gives them, but now they’re loving it,” Mrs. Tieken said.

As an individual, Mrs. Tieken considers her passion for being teaching about wildlife and animals.

Especially living in a city, not everyone gets exposed information that I feel like is really important. Everyone eats, everyone generally has a pet at some point in their life, and if they’re not properly trained on exactly what to do, then I feel like that’s a sad thing,” Mrs. Tieken said.

Mrs. Tieken herself grew up on a farm, which founded her love for animals and FFA.

“When I was in high school, FFA was one meeting a year, and you had to raise an animal. So, I raised four cows, so one every year. I loved the raising animal parts of that, but I really didn’t like the only having one meeting a year with two elect officers,” Mrs. Tieken said.

Considering her experience from FFA, Mrs. Tieken has grown FFA on the George Bush campus into an organization that she is proud of.

I really love FFA in this school because I’ve built it with the officers to be exactly how I envisioned a fun club would be. So, our meetings are super fun, we play games every time, and there are also competitive teams that they can be on,” Mrs. Tieken said.

Mrs. Tieken hopes to inspire her students through her passion and impact them as well.

“I was super shy, and I didn’t have a teacher who pushed me to speak, so generally speaking of it, it’s always quiet kids who never say anything in class, and I do that [pushing her students to speak] intentionally because I want to push them to get a head start on being able to talk in front of people and being more comfortable with themselves,” Mrs. Tieken said.

As a teacher, Mrs. Tieken creates an inclusive environment for those who feel that they don’t fit in anywhere else.

“Most of the time, these aren’t like athletes, and they aren’t cheerleaders or dance team people. They’re the kids that don’t have a spot exactly, and so that’s why I really love FFA. There is always a spot for whatever kid comes in,” Mrs. Tieken said.

Due to her passion and the FFA program, she has seen her students grow.

“One of my favorite things about teaching agriculture is that it’s a four-year program, and most kids stay four years, so I get to see them from their freshmen all the way through their senior year, and there’s such a big difference,” Mrs. Tieken said.

It’s evident that Mrs. Tieken is the heart and soul of the FFA organization at George Bush. Not only is it shown through her students and character, but the kittens as well!

By J.A.