Teacher Mentor Awards

"Teacher mentors are willing and able to give of themselves to assist other teachers," said NAAE President Allan Sulser. "They realize that the future is in our young teachers and help prepare them to be leaders and become successful in years to come in the classroom and the community." The NAAE Teacher Mentor Award recognizes those educators that lend a hand to others in their profession. CEV Multimedia sponsors this award.

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Region I
Veril Nelson
Sutherlin High School
Sutherlin, Oregon

Veril Nelson, agriculture teacher at Sutherlin High School in Oregon, regularly demonstrates the value and importance of providing a quality, meaningful, hands-on instruction in the classroom. Nelson has not only put this philosophy to practice in his classroom, but has encouraged numerous young teachers over the years. Nelson has been a mentor for Raymon Smith since his time a student-teacher. "On a daily basis, Veril spent one and a half hours after school discussing what happened that day during instruction time. He would point out the good and bad in each situation, providing me with examples of how to improve and change my methods of instruction," recalls Smith. Nelson's role of mentor did not end when Smith left his classroom; rather, he continued to work with and develop Smith as an agricultural educator.

Over the years, Nelson has always been more than willing to listen, provide perspective solutions and give direction to young educators. "Veril's involvement in the agriculture industry on a personal and professional level keeps him on the cutting edge of technology and information of the agriculture education field. His overflowing knowledge has provided me with continual educational and has influenced me to have active involvement in the agriculture industry as well as to maintain a high level of up-to-date knowledge for my students and program," said Smith.

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Region II
Michael Stephens
Chickasha Public Schools
Chickasha, Oklahoma

For the past 36 years Stephens has been teaching agricultural sciences, 21 of those years have been served at Chickasha Public Schools. During his career, Stephens has had a strong reputation for being an outstanding agricultural education instructor by guiding and encouraging his students. Stephens was nominated by Adam McClain, a former student and fellow agricultural teacher.

After meeting Stephens during his eighth grade year, McCain says that he was inspired to become more involved in the agriculture classes; eventually starting his own herd of beef cattle and taking on leadership roles within the FFA, a professional leadership organization for high school students. McCain says, “during the past 11 years I have relied on Mr. Stephens many times to give me advice and steer me down the right path.”

In 2003 McCain started his own career in Agriculture Education. Since then, he has relied on Stephens for guidance in teaching. “Due to Mr. Stephens’ strong dedication to instruction, he instilled in me the need for strong instruction that is backed up with hands on experience,” says McCain. To build resources, Stephens has also encouraged McCain to get involved with various professional organizations and the local community.

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Region III
Diane Runde
Janesville Craig High School
Janesville, Wisconsin

An important part of any mentor/mentee relationship is the role-modeling the mentor teacher provides for the mentee, expressed Rick Henningfeld and Adam Wehling, both colleagues and mentees of Diane Runde of Janesville, Wisconsin. The three recognize the unique and beneficial partnership that they have formed while improving the teaching techniques and FFA activities at Janesville Craig and Evansville High School.

Throughout her teaching career, Runde has had the opportunity to teach agriculture in a variety of settings, ranging from a small high school with 92 students to a large high school with over 8,000 students. Each teaching position challenged Runde to develop new curriculums with different focuses. Consequently, Runde has provided Henningfeld and Wehling with a plethora of ideas, materials, personal contacts, and agricultural practices in the area. Runde's mentoring relationship with Henningfeld and Wehiling has also brought about a sense of collaboration and bonding between the schools that allows for continuous discussion about teaching strategies, improving techniques, and trouble-shooting of ideas.

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Region IV
Charles Sappington
Cumberland High School
Toledo, Illinois

Charles Sappington takes great strides to not only improve the quality of the agricultural education provided to students in his classroom, but in others around the region as well. Sappington's influence in ag education is far reaching through the mentoring relationships that he has developed with individuals such as Jean Bond. The mentoring relationship that has grown between Sappington and Bond is one that is fueled by face to face meetings, classroom observations, telephone calls, and constant e-mails.

Sappington and Bond have observed one another's classes and taken away many great ideas that can be implemented into their respective agriculture programs. "Mr. Sappington provided me with a vast amount of resources and advice on managing the classroom and laboratory environment," emphasized Bond. Sappington's advice has made a tremendous impact in Bond's teaching methods and has encouraged Bond to place greater focus on the needs of the community.

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Region V
James Roberts
Lumberton HIgh School
Lumberton, North Carolina

In 2000, Jimmy Roberts was faced with a tremendous opportunity for personal and professional growth when he accepted a teaching position at Lumberton High School. This unique opportunity presented two challenges. In taking this position Roberts became responsible for not only rebuilding a chapter that was lagging behind, but he also found himself mentoring a novice teacher that was in the process of gaining certification.

Roberts took steps to ensure that his new teaching partner, Frankie Farborko Jr., was fully equipped to enter the classroom. The two worked together to arrange a teaching schedule that would allow Farborko to attend courses after the school day. Roberts demonstrated different teaching methodologies in his classes each day, while Farborko observed. "From his guidance I have incorporated more cooperative exercises into the classroom and laboratory settings. He always stressed that if you keep the group numbers low then the students will challenge each other; thus, raising the cognitive ability for each student within the group," recalled Farborko. Roberts places emphasis on personal accountability within the classroom, whether it is that of himself, his colleagues or students.


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Region VI
Shelly Roy
Ledyard High School
Salem, Connecticut

Shelly Roy and Matthew Smith have not only built a strong ag department at Ledyard High School, but have developed a unique mentor/mentee relationship as well. This mentor/mentee relationship has developed over the course of four years, after Smith joined Roy in the department. Roy has a unique outlook teaching and has proven to be a tremendous source of support for young teachers.

"She has taught me to be an active teacher and has shown me how to make students active learners. Shelly's assistance, encouragement and supportive suggestions have advanced my teaching career further than I thought was possible in the time I have been an educator," emphasized Smith.

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