Outstanding Teacher Awards

Enthusiastic, motivated, inspiring. these are just a few words that describe an Outstanding Teacher. The NAAE Outstanding Teacher Awards go to agriculture teachers that have kept a tradition of excellence in their program along with the inborn love for agriculture.

Region I Randi Hunewill, NV
Region II Gary Leger, NM
Region III Lisa Konkel, WI
Region IV David Black, KY
Region V David Harris, FL
Region VI Bonnie Kegler, CT

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Region I
Randi Hunewill
Smith Valley High School
Smith, NV

Throughout her seventeen years of teaching at Smith Valley, Hunewill has held to one philosophy; teach for success.  Hunewill strives to make sure that her students comprehend lessons through hands-on activities, assessments and group discussion.  Her students are able to put their knowledge to work by re-creating lessons to present to the elementary students in the local K-12 school.

Hunewill's students are always learning and exploring.  Being a strong believer that students learn in different ways, she has transformed her classroom into a place where they can explore, review, and create new concepts.  She strives to keep her curriculum focused on state science, math and English standards to help her students score well on state placement tests.  Hunewill has also developed many partnerships with the community which opens up service opportunities for her members as well as internships for her seniors.

"My students are the most important thing to me when I drive up to Smith Valley High School," said Hunewill.  "The FFA members in their blue jackets are our best marketing tool.  The program is a direct result of their hard work and dedication."

"Randi is very passionate about agriculture and has revised her curriculum so that it matches the state and national science standards," said Keri Pommerening, Smith Valley Principal.  "She is constantly working together with other faculty members to work out practices and time slots that best fit our students."

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Region II
Gary Leger
Robertson High School
Las Vegas, NM

Throughout his eight years of teaching at Robertson High School, Leger has held to his philosophy; "We are required to engage every student in every class every day."  His philosophy has guided him into success in his non-traditional agriculture classroom, increasing the program enrollment from 18 students in 1999 to 68 students in 2007.  Many of his students do not come from a production agriculture background.  He creates his curriculum in a way that it focuses on area agribusiness, natural resource management, leadership skills, and production agriculture.

Over the years Leger has also worked to build relations with community organizations and the New Mexico legislature.  Through these relationships, he has been able to open up intern and job opportunities for his students, since many of them do not have traditional agriculture operations to use for Supervised Agricultural Experience Programs (SAEP).  Leger feels that SAEP is a very important aspect of education, and all of his students have one.  Along with SAEPs, he gets his students involved in the program and community through various events, fundraisers and presentations throughout the year.

"My students are happier and more engaged in class and have shown considerable improvement in standards-based assessments as well as FFA competitive events." said Leger.  "Having happy, poised and successful members in Blue and Gold jackets actively involved in their school and community is our most successful marketing tool."

"Mr. Leger's students are always engaged, and his classroom is one of those rare and exciting laboratories where there is always a lot of energy and learning going on," said Dr. Pete Campos, Superintendent of Las Vegas City Schools.  "I see him and his students all over town—either engaged in hands-on activities, involved in service-learning or making presentations to various groups."

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Region III
Lisa Konkel
Big Foot Union High School
Walworth, WI

Konkel has taught at Big Foot Union for the past 14 years.  She uses a variety of teaching methods that keep her students interested in learning.  She wants her students to not only feel safe and learn, but she wants them to have fun doing it.  She works to maintain the hands-on aspect of agriculture in her program by incorporating labs and simulations throughout her lessons.  Konkel feels that the program offers a variety of courses in which all types of students can find something they will enjoy.

Along with having a classroom that is active in student learning, the program strives to keep students learning outside of the classroom through supervised agricultural experience programs (SAEP).  The students are encouraged to develop an SAEP that they will work with throughout their entire high school career.  Konkel manages by visiting each student's project throughout the year, including the summer.  Her students are also given the opportunity for learning outside of the classroom through service projects conducted by their FFA chapter.  The students build relationships that give them the opportunity to volunteer and give back to the community.

"Not only are the students doing a service to the community, but the experience also changes them positively," says Konkel.  The program has gained respect from the community for the work they do with younger students and the effort they put into chapter activities and fundraisers.

"Konkel has made a profound difference in the achievement of her students through strong, thoughtful and inspired leadership," said Dorothy Kaufmann, District administrator.  "She demonstrates great passion for teaching and working with young adults to support their career efforts and to assist them as they develop their knowledge and competencies in the field of agriscience."

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Region IV
David Black
Fulton County High School
Hickman, KY

Throughout his 26 years of teaching at Fulton County High, Black has stood by the philosophy that all students can learn and be successful.  To help realize that philosophy, he has worked to integrate technology and hands-on learning experiences into his curriculum. 

"The first step in being a successful teacher is classroom management," said Black.  He has been very successful at creating an environment where his students know the limits, but they also feel safe and comfortable.

Along with promoting students learning and success during school hours, Black has developed ways for his students to learn outside of the classroom.  He helps his students develop a supervised agricultural experience program that fits their interests.  Students raise livestock, grow row crops, and work in floral shops, giving them the opportunity to learn outside of their agriculture classes.  Black has also maintained a very successful FFA chapter with students receiving state and American degrees, competing in national career development events and serving as state FFA officers.

Black's passion for teaching is seen in his classroom, students and the community.  He has developed community partnerships that offer many opportunities for students, from supervised agricultural experience opportunities to a college scholarship sponsored by the FFA Alumni Chapter.

"There are few programs that touch all students in school and even fewer teachers," said Wayne Benningfield, Fulton County High Principal.  "Mr. Black is such a teacher and has created such a program through leadership opportunities, strong academic expectations and curriculum that supports student academic achievement."

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Region V
David Harris
Union County High School
Lake Butler, FL

Professionally, Harris has taken measures that make him stand out from the crowd.  He received his national board certification along with a master's degree in educational leadership.  With these accomplishments, he feels that he can better understand the needs of his students.  Harris has been very influential in sharing information learned with his colleagues.  He is always attending conferences and workshops to gain new ideas to enhance his teaching strategies and techniques.

"Educators should try to develop young people into useful citizens that are responsible, punctual and eager to achieve, and who have a grasp on what the real world has to offer," said Harris.  "While sharing new knowledge and information with students is important, we should teach them so that they understand its importance for the future."  Many of Harris' students do not come from a farm, so for students to get a grasp of real life situations in his classes, he allows students to assist in operating the department's 60 acre land lab.  The enterprise incorporates many breeds of animals along with a meat processing plant and aquaculture area that Harris has assisted in developing.

Students are able to job shadow at various agriculture businesses throughout the community, which gives them a front row view of real-world work experiences.  Harris and his students return the favor by through community service activities like the Food for America project and organizing local petting zoos.

"What makes David a great teacher is his love of young people and his passion to see them succeed in and out of the classroom as well as being productive citizens in the community," said Tom Williams, fellow educator.  "He truly makes a difference in the lives of all those who cross his path, including my own."

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Region VI
Bonnie Kegler
Killingly High School
Killingly, CT

Throughout her fourteen years of teaching at the Killingly Regional Agricultural Education Center, Kegler has lived by the philosophy that if you set high expectations and believe your students will succeed, they will. 

"You must deliver your lessons in a manner that you find exciting and your enthusiasm will be contagious," said Kegler.  Kegler has continuously worked at improving her animal science curriculum to make it more relevant to her students' lives.  She has also developed lessons and curriculums in agribusiness and food science, and is currently working on curriculums that will encourage students to pursue a career in agricultural education.  Along with classroom instruction, Kegler is a strong believer in incorporating supervised agricultural experience (SAE) and the FFA into the agriculture program.

At the end of their freshman year, students must have a SAE plan ready for teachers to assist with establishing goals and setting up record books.  The students' SAEs are graded each quarter according to a rubric to ensure that the students continue to learn outside of the classroom.  Kegler has maintained student involvement over the years, with 100% of her students receiving their greenhand and chapter FFA degrees.  She has been successful at training career development event teams, with fifteen winning state championships since 2000.  The FFA chapter volunteers at local a cat rescue center, gives to the needy and hosts an annual animal barnyard event.

During their junior/senior year, Kegler requires her students to job shadow for at least six hours in order to help them gain an idea of what they want to do after graduation. 

Kegler has held office and served on committees in the Connecticut Association of Agricultural Educators and has assisted in organizing state career development events.

"Bonnie Kegler is truly something special to her students and to our agricultural education department here at Killingly High School," said Kenneth Couture, Kegler's co-teacher.  "Her energy is amazing, and she is never satisfied to rest on her laurels.  She is innovative in the classroom and an enthusiastic team player."

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