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“You can wish the world away and it will remain the same. You can wish the world away and it will remain the same-unless you cause the change,” is the first statement of William West’s teaching philosophy. West’s favorite line is ‘unless you cause the change.’ West will do anything that results in positive change. He will stand on a chair, move a desk, have students stand on chairs, or do anything to stimulate some kind of change. The result is knowledge gained.
This self admitted ‘crazy man’ is one of three agricultural education teachers at Ripley High School in Ripley, West Virginia. It is here that West is the stimulus that causes change in students’ reactions, behavior and learning. He personally feels that providing hands-on and personal experiences are the best tools to cause change.
Another cornerstone of his philosophy is the reward he finds in working with students. He feels that helping them set goals and understanding their own true potential is extremely important. Another favorite saying to students is, “Shoot for the moon and if you fall a little short, you are still a shining star.”
Instruction at Ripley High school involves real world experience as much as possible. The Supervised Agriculture Experience (SAE) is successful in putting money in students’ pockets while helping them gain valuable experience. The SAE program generates over $200,000 annually in student income. Students also learn compute applications, marketing, display set-up and salesmanship within the confines of the curriculum. Classes are progressive using hands-on learning, experiential learning, and cooperatives with students spending part of the school day working for area businesses.
The FFA chapter is also successful. The chapter is a keystone for success and pride. Students are consistently winners in state competition, and they are always involved with leadership exercises. The chapter received 237 state degrees from 1978-2000, with 21 coming in one year. Students compete in many contests at the local, regional, state and national levels.
The Ripley FFA established a Foundation Award Sponsor Program and a Foundation Award Supportive Program. This past year, 95 supporters donated $3,000 to the programs. These partnerships are recognized in an eight-page layout in the local newspaper during National FFA Week.
The Ripley FFA is promoted through many activities. They involve 500 elementary and middle school students in the Food for America Program. Also, over 400 local community members attend the banquet each year. All eight grade students receive a personal letter illustrating the success of past FFA students and highlighting the activities of the Ripley FFA Chapter.
West is a firm believer in professional development. He is active in the West Virginia Vocational Agriculture Teachers Association and served as President and Treasurer. He also attends many workshops and inservices in order to keep current with trends in agricultural education. He enjoys participating in these events to network with peers and keep up to date with fellow agriculture teachers.
“There is probably no one person who has had a greater influence on agricultural programs in West Virginia schools during the past quarter century that Mr. William West,” observes Layle Lawrence, Chair of the Agricultural and Environmental Education Department at West Virginia University. For the past 27 years West has influenced the state of West Virginia and continues to work hard and set examples for new teachers while working at Ripley High school.
West is the 2001 NAAE Region VI Outstanding Teacher.
|© Copyright National Association of Agricultural Educators, 2001|
|For more information on the activities and programs described in this report, contact the NAAE office or check with your state agriculture teachers' association for items such as deadlines.|