Leading the Way: Being a CASE Lead Teacher
By Tim Ray
Tim Ray teaches CASE’s Principles of Agricultural Science—Plant (ASP) and Principles of Agricultural Science—Animal (ASA) courses at Dallas High School in Dallas, Ore. He will be leading ASP CASE Institutes in Iowa and Maryland this summer. To learn more about CASE, visit www.case4learning.org.
Almost three years ago, I took a leap of faith by embarking on what I hoped was a step forward in agricultural education and a more meaningful and fun education for my students. I also wanted to up my game as an education professional and continue to hone my teaching practices and strategies.
So in the summer of 2010, I spent twenty-eight days on the road attending two CASE Institutes. One was Introduction to Agriculture—Animal Science (ASA), the other Introduction to Agriculture—Plant Science (ASP). During that time I lived out of a suitcase while I stayed in a very nice motel and later, in a not-so-fancy dorm. I ate all sorts of different foods and met some amazing individuals. I also grew more in that twenty-eight days than I had in my previous ten years of teaching.
The next summer, CASE took the leap of faith in me and allowed me to be a lead teacher for the plant science course in Ohio. This time I only spent thirteen days living in one motel room and eating the best Dayton, Oh. had to offer, but I still learned as much or more than the participants.
Being a lead teacher means I’ve participated in at least one CASE Institute, taught the CASE curriculum for at least one year, and have gone through the lead teacher selection and orientation process. It was the hardest, most mentally draining, fantastic experience I have had in over a decade of teaching agriculture. It’s like having a class full of “A” students who soak up everything you teach them and really want to apply what they’re learning. It was gratifying, exhausting and exhilarating.
CASE changed the way I teach all my courses, not just the CASE courses. It’s allowed me to do all the things I tried to do in my program but was not sure I was accomplishing. This is my opportunity to give back. I have a passion for agricultural education that is evident to all who know me, and it comes out in every aspect of my life. I also believe all students deserve to have the best educators. As a CASE lead teacher I hope I instill that same passion in other ag teachers and push them to be better, more confident instructors.
Being a lead teacher has also brought recognition from my administration. They see the importance of having employees who are leaders in the profession. In fact, they support it so much, I’ll be teaching two Institutes this summer, and they’re allowing me to miss the last week of school to do it.
Institute participants who show a special interest in or affinity for the CASE curriculum are encouraged to become lead teachers. Each January, a message is sent to those new candidates as well as previous lead teachers, inviting them to apply to be a lead teacher for the upcoming summer. Just because I was a lead teacher once doesn’t mean I’m in for life; everyone must apply to become a lead teacher each year. Every applicant is evaluated against all other applicants, and held up to CASE’s exacting standards. Once you’re selected as a lead teacher, however, CASE’s lead teacher orientation sets you up for success.
Many ag teachers ask me what I think of CASE, and whether I would recommend it for their program. CASE has elevated my program to a model that my school district uses not only for Career and Technical Education but all students. I believe CASE could be a great tool for most programs, and a great curriculum for all programs if used correctly.
I believe CASE will keep agricultural education positioned as the leader in career and technical education well into the future and will be used as a model of what education should look like and how it should be delivered.
Looking back on my CASE journey, I believe I have done the right thing for my program, students, school, community, and myself. Would I do it again? Yes! In a heartbeat, and I hope you will challenge yourself to become a CASE lead teacher. You and your students deserve it.