Teacher Mentor: Steve Pritchard
2011 Teacher Mentor
Agricultural education runs in Steve Pritchard’s blood. He is a second-generation agriculture teacher, and in addition to inspiring his students to choose teaching agriculture as a career, he has brought his daughter, Lindsey, into the profession. Maybe he is just genetically predisposed to agricultural education, but his colleagues cite his unwavering commitment to his students and community as inspirational. Pritchard has been teaching at McLoud Public Schools for thirty-three years. He won a NAAE Teacher Mentor award in 2011.
“He is rare among today’s agricultural education instructors by the example of his work ethic and dedication to his community,” said Kenny Leatherwood, Pritchard’s nominator and colleague at nearby Edmond Santa-Fe High School.
Each year, Pritchard brings his students to the Pottawatomie County Fair in Shawnee, Oklahoma to show livestock, crops, or the antique tractors that they have spent months restoring to working order. He added tractor restoration to the ag program in 1998. The students restore tractors for community members and organizations, and sometimes the program keeps tractors for display.
“We have one, a 1949 John Deere D that the kids have just finished restoring. It took ten months. The cab is the only part that isn’t original—it was homemade by a gentleman in Texas, which makes this tractor rather unique,” said Pritchard.
Agricultural mechanics and farming history are Pritchard’s favorite subjects to teach. He accompanies each project with a history lesson so students can appreciate older farming methods and machines. At the county fair, his students demonstrate bailing hay with a hay press, where they feed the wire and hay in by hand, then tie it together. They also show the crowd how to thresh corn with a corn peeler, and afterward make feed for onsite livestock. He also encourages his students to drive their antique tractors in parades.
“In this past year we’ve traveled to eight parades across Oklahoma, and we led the Oklahoma FFA exhibit in the Centennial parade,” Pritchard said. “We also won sweepstakes at the Tulsa State Fair in ag mechanics.”
“We do other projects but ag mechanics is our thing,” Pritchard said. “McLoud is a bedroom community to Oklahoma City, and a lot of our kids just aren’t into animals and showing, so this is something they take interest and pride in.”
That pride stays with his students. “He has touched countless young lives throughout his career, and I know I am a better person and educator for having known him,” said Brandon Boughen, one of Pritchard’s former students. “Mr. Pritchard is an excellent educator, a trusted friend, and a lifelong mentor.”
Each of the six regional Teacher Mentor award winners received a plaque and stipend to attend the NAAE convention in St Louis. CEV Multimedia sponsors the Teacher Mentor Award. For more information about this and other NAAE awards, visit http://www.naae.org/resources/awards/index.cfm/.