The Value of CASE from an Administrator’s Point of View
Getting buy-in and support from your administrators is critical to the success of any agriculture program. When your principal, superintendent or board member sees what you’re doing as contributing to the overall achievement of the school, your program goes from being a nice-to-have to a need-to-have.
For the past few years, CASE has been helping agriculture programs all over the U.S. stay on the need-to-have list by helping teachers show their administrators the direct connection between students’ success in the CASE classroom and success after graduation.
Aaron Geiman, an agriscience teacher who uses CASE at North Carroll High School in Hampstead, Md., has a lot of support from his administration at all levels. So what exactly is it about CASE that has their attention? We asked two of them to find out.
For Marjorie Lohnes, CTE Supervisor for Carroll County Public Schools, there were lots of reasons it made sense to adopt CASE at the eight high schools in her county. The fact it was being developed nationally, with input and leadership from teachers, assured her that it was going to meet national standards on which she was basing the county’s CTE standards. The outstanding level of professional development and ongoing support for teachers who implemented the curriculum, and the fact that Geiman would be involved in writing the curriculum created a perfect storm of reasons to get on board.
CASE appeals to Lohnes not only because of its rigor, but because of its strong sequential framework. This has allowed her to offer agricultural education in a uniform way across the entire district. Before, students might have just taken an agriculture course here or there during their high school career. The structure of CASE gives students a clear way to complete an entire CTE pathway by the time they graduate.
In Carroll County, student can choose a focus on plants or animals, get a broad base of knowledge by taking one CASE course each year, then focus their senior year capstone course on a specific area of interest, pulling all their knowledge into one, overarching project.
At least one teacher in each Carroll County high school has attended a CASE institute and implemented the CASE Intro to Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources course. Most schools have someone trained in either Principles of Animal or Plant Science courses, and three schools have teachers who will be field testing the Animal and Plant Biotechnology course this year.
So far, Lohnes says, the feedback has been positive. The teachers like it because the professional development prepares them to implement the curriculum. “We are helping students wrestle with higher level learning,” she said. “I don’t mind having high expectations for student, but we must support them."
According to Kim Dolch, Geiman’s principal, CASE has legitimized agriculture classes in her school by raising the rigor of the content taught in those classes. North Carroll already had a strong agriscience curriculum, but implementing CASE elevates the rigor and allows students to understand what is expected of them in each course.
“Kids will rise to the occasion,” said Dolch. “It’s so much more detailed, objective driven. Students are getting the recognition they deserve and we’re giving attention where it needs to be. We need people to be prepared for changes in agriculture, changes in the world. Through CASE, our students are learning critical problem solving – the skills they need to solve huge, complex issues that affect a lot of people.”
The teacher support provided by CASE has also been positive in Dolch’s eyes. “Aaron’s been a role model to help other teachers realize what they need to grow and learn. He’s presented to our faculty two or three times about what he’s doing, and the professional development he’s done has helped other teachers realize maybe they need to step it up themselves.”
Bottom line, CASE has helped Carroll County’s administration see more clearly the already present link between agricultural education and rigorous science and math education.
For more information about CASE, visit www.case4learning.org. If you would like to talk with Aaron Geiman about how he uses CASE to grow his program’s status with his administrators, you can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.