Teacher Mentor Awards

Teacher mentors are willing and able to give of themselves to assist other teachers. 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.

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Region II
Steve Pritchard
McLoud Public Schools
McLoud, Oklahoma

Pritchard has been the agriculture teacher at McLoud Public Schools for 33 years.  He is also second-generation agriculture teacher.  While serving as a cooperating teacher for future agricultural educators, he has lent a hand in inspiring students to choose teaching agriculture as a career, including his daughter, Lindsey.  Pritchard incorporates project-based learning into his curriculum, where students learn how to build working equipment from the limited resources provided.  He concerns himself with his students’ future and, therefore, plans monthly industry visits for his students to learn about career fields.  Pritchard also develops partnerships with each of his students to help them plan out Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) projects and to meet their academic needs.  He has also involved himself in a math and science Title II-B partnership summer grant institute, which helps enhance students’ success in technology, environmental science and earth science subjects.  It is essential to Pritchard that his program curriculum incorporate all academic subject areas so that students succeed in their academic courses.

“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 agricultural education instructor at nearby Edmond Santa-Fe High School.

“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, Pritchard’s former student.  “Mr. Pritchard is an excellent educator, a trusted friend and a lifelong mentor and deserves the highest accolades which can be bestowed.

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Region III
Tiffany Johnston
Graettinger-Terril High School
Graettinger, Iowa

Johnston has been teaching agriculture for six years.  In that time, she has not only taught high school students but also taught new agriculture teachers through the Iowa Association of Agricultural Educators (IAAE) New Teacher Program.  Johnston credits her passion for mentoring new agriculture teachers to the dedicated teachers she has met in her state.  Johnston explains how fellow Iowa agricultural educator, Tara Fastert, is driven to be an effective teacher as she is never afraid to ask for help or challenge herself to lead her students.  Inspired by Fastert, Johnston began a partnership with her to help other new teachers in the profession during the 2010 IAAE Summer Conference.  Johnston helped develop a New Teacher Program that gave teachers more, well-rounded ideas and quality resources to aid them in their upcoming year of teaching.  Introducing the teachers to online websites such as NAAE Communities of Practice professional networking site was just one of the resources introduced.  Following the conference Johnston has kept in contact with the new teachers through email and phone conversations and verbal conversations at FFA events. 

Johnston also worked with agriculture teachers across the state to collect quality lesson plans, teaching strategies and activities to disperse to teachers attending the conference.  Johnston understands the significance of partnerships within an agricultural education program and made sure to include them as part of the conference.  She utilized guest speakers to help teachers make initial connections to individuals who support agricultural education. Johnston has also helped develop a mentor program between each new teacher and a member of their school district to ensure support on an immediate, local level.  It is important to Johnston to help new teachers become the most effective educators they can become as she personally knows much it helps.

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Region IV
Dena Wuebker
Versailles High School
Versailles, Ohio

Wuebker has been the agriculture teacher at Versailles High School for 17 years.  Versailles is a small rural community of 2,500 people, with a strong agriculture industry of swine, dairy, corn and soybeans.  Wuebker lives and breathes the agriculture industry of Versailles.  She was raised on a dairy farm, and served as a past Ohio FFA State President.    Wuebker feels as if her high retention rate of students stems from her philosophy on student-teacher relationships.  Each summer Wuebker makes a special trip to incoming student’s homes to talk about her expectations, and what the course structure will be for the upcoming year.  This helps her students work to achieve their highest potential.

Not only does Wuebker work to help her students reach their goals, she also helps fellow agricultural educators to understand their role.  A great example of this was recently when Ohio was attempting to change curriculum and funding for agriculture programs.  Wuebker voluntarily hosted an informational meeting for all agriculture teachers and administrators to ask questions and listen to state agriculture educational staff, so they better understand what the changes will be and how their programs will be affected.

“I have had the opportunity to know Mrs. Wuebker very well.  She was my teacher, student teacher, and now friend.  I would not have survived my first year of teaching without her help, I model my teaching style and work ethic after her, daily,” said Marie Carity, Miami East High School Agriculture Teacher.

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Region V
Chuck Flowers
Liberty High School
Jackson, Tennessee

Scott Stone

Flowers has been half of the two-teacher agriculture program at Liberty School for the past 7 years of his 32-year career.  When Liberty High School opened in 2003, administrators knew they needed a teacher who could be effective within a very urban school district.  The program at Liberty consists of 10 different subject areas; agriscience, agricultural mechanics, agricultural engineering, greenhouse management, interior/exterior landscaping, floriculture, plant biotechnology, hydroponics, aquaculture, and agriculture work-based learning.  These 10 areas are available to the 846 students enrolled at Liberty High School, 136 whom are currently part of the program.

Each year since the FFA chapter at Liberty opened in 2003, it has been ranked in the top 10 of FFA chapters in west Tennessee.  The program was also selected as Outstanding Agriculture Program for Tennessee in 2008 and 2009.

Flowers is always willing to share any advice with community members, current students, or fellow teachers.  During his 32-year career he has mentored numerous student teachers, five of whom currently have their own agriculture programs in Tennessee.      
“Chuck is an excellent role model and leader.  He has changed the face of FFA in our county making it more productive,” says Teresa Crouse, Co-teacher at Liberty High School.  “Chuck is a very motivated, dedicated and confident man and advisor.”

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Region VI
Tara Berescik
Tri-Valley Central School
Grahmasville, New York

John Blankenship

Berescik has been teaching agriculture for 11 years.  In that time, she has not only taught high school students but also mentored five agriculture student teachers, three new teachers at Tri-Valley High School, and many fellow agricultural educators.  Berescik’s passion for mentoring was ignited during her first year of teaching, when a student named Catherine became ill and was hospitalized.  Berescik visited Catherine during her time in the hospital, helped her earn a scholarship for FFA leadership development, and saw her blossom into an enthusiastic FFA member and officer.  After Catherine’s death, Berescik began to realize all the lives that Catherine had touched; fellow students, teachers and most importantly her own.

“Good teaching means that we are learning to do things better.  We are putting in the time to stay on the cutting edge for our students, and we are working to provide for ourselves and teaching others to be able to do the same,” said Berescik.

“I would like to state that for the past eight years, I have always strived to become more like Ms. Berescik.  She is my role model in every way and each day I measure my success by whether or not I have done something that she herself would be proud of,” said Kaylie Ackerley, a graduate of Berescik’s agriculture class and an agricultural education major at Cornell University. 

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