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.
All Teacher Mentor award winner photos from 2013 NAAE Convention
(For news releases, see individual entries below)
Baboquivari High School
Wesch has taught agriculture at Baboquivari High School in Sells for 33 years. Baboquivari High School serves students of the Tohono O'odham Nation. Wesch has held many elected offices in the Arizona Agriculture Teachers Association and continues to lead without a title. To that end, mentor very much describes a role Wesch serves for new and experienced teachers. Mr. Wesch was the AATA mentoring program coordinator for eight years, ending in 2008. Through this role he helped countless new agricultural educators in the state navigate the first few years of their careers. Even though he is no longer the program coordinator in title, he continues to assist the current coordinators to provide positive induction experiences for new agriculture teachers, effectively mentoring the mentors. He continues to serve as a teacher mentor for new teachers through the program, and experienced teachers look to Wesch for advice and counsel regarding AATA business and issues related to agricultural education. Additionally, he provides a rich, meaningful experience to pre-service teachers as a cooperating teacher.
Riplet High School
A 34-year veteran of agricultural education, Mitchell is looked to in Oklahoma for advice by new and experienced teachers alike. He has a long history of leadership both in the Oklahoma Agricultural Education Teachers Association and the Oklahoma Association for Career and Technical Education, having served as president of each organization. Mitchell leads by example when it comes to having a long and successful career. He makes a conscious effort to set an example of caring, willingness to listen, and staying open to new ideas and perspectives.
"Perhaps Mr. Mitchell's greatest strength is his ability to communicate with people," said Dr. Kenny Beams, superintendent at Ripley Public Schools. "He has the wisdom to turn an intense situation into a positive experience for students, parents, faculty members and peers."
Former agriculture instructor
Gettysburg, South Dakota
Lehman taught high school agricultural education from 1976 until his unfortunate passing due to cancer in 2012. In his time at Gettysburg, he served as an official and unofficial mentor to students, alumni and fellow agricultural educators in South Dakota's District VI. Sarah Lambert, current agricultural educator at Faulkton High School, said Lehman advised her as a new teacher and always took the time to listen, answering all her questions and adding suggestions to help her improve.
"Bill has been an inspiration to me as a teacher," Lambert said. "Without his suggestions and guidance I would not be the teacher I am today. He has set a good example, not only for me, but for all of the other young teachers in our state."
Lambert is not alone. Over the course of his career, Lehman mentored numerous fellow agricultural educators, many who already looked to him as a mentor from their days as students. This includes Tara Beitelspacher, who nominated him for the Teacher Mentor award.
"I saw Mr. Lehman as the father of District VI. Like a dad, he was constantly letting all of my fellow agriculture teachers know in his gentle manner that he was there for them," Beitelspacher said. "Mr. Lehman taught me many valuable lessons as an agricultural teacher, but taught me more about life."
Holder has taught agriculture since July of 2003, which includes her most recent position as sole agriculture instructor at Tri-County R-VII in Jamesport, Mo. Over the years, she has had a great impact on the community and has influenced many students' lives. Katie Martin, who nominated Holder for the Teacher Mentor award, was inspired by Holder to become an agriculture teacher herself, and once she began teaching, Holder continued to mentor her. Martin is not alone. Over the course of her career, Holder has mentored numerous people, students and new teachers alike.
"Mrs. Amy Holder has been extremely helpful in my first year of teaching high school agriculture and being an FFA advisor," Martin said. "Not only has she been willing to help me, but she has also given advice to other young teachers in Area 2. Our relationship has grown from just being 'professional' to 'friends.' I feel as though I can talk to her about anything, school related or not. She is a very special lady who would be willing to help out any one in need."
North Greene High School
Tucker has taught agriculture since 1980, and is currently teaching at North Greene High School in Greeneville. Over the years, he has impacted numerous people in the agricultural education profession, including three pre-service teachers. One of those teachers was Stena Meadows of Chuckey-Doak High School. When she accepted her position, she learned she would have to teach greenhouse courses, an area in which she had no experience. She sought out the advice and mentorship of Dale to help her put together a curriculum quickly.
Meadows is not alone. Brian Parr, Ph.D., said the pinnacle of his undergraduate experience was his student teaching time with Tucker because the confidence and courage he gained from Tucker in that semester stayed with him long after his student teaching experience ended.
"Through [Tucker's] instruction and confidence in me, he provided me the necessary skills to become an effective educator," Parr said. "I hope that I can influence my students in a positive manner and help them to achieve their goals as educators just as Mr. Tucker helped me."
Greenville High School
Greenville, New York
Anderson has taught agriculture since 2001. In her time at Greenville, she has served as the official and unofficial mentor to both her own co-teachers and student teachers who come to the program for their first experiences in the classroom. Michaela Kehrer, also a teacher at the high school, said Anderson helped her adjust to the school culture at Greenville, improve curriculum and implement science into her courses.
"Rachel immediately took me under her wing as department chair, and helped me to quickly feel at home within our department, FFA chapter and school," Kehrer said. "I attribute much of my success as a tenured teacher to Rachel mentoring me."
Kehrer is not alone. Over the course of her career, Anderson has mentored three student teachers, including Sheri Boardman, who nominated her for this award. Boardman said her relationship with Anderson is the kind that keeps inexperienced teachers going and helps them stay in the agricultural education profession for many years.
"I am fortunate to have an amazing mentor teacher in Rachel, who was so encouraging during my pre-service yeas and continues that encouragement today," Boardman said.