NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Chris Thomas, agricultural educator at Wauseon High School in Wauseon, Ohio, is one of a select group of agriculture teachers nationwide who received the 2017 Teachers Turn the Key professional development scholarship from the National Association of Agricultural Educators. As a scholarship recipient, Thomas attended the NAAE annual convention in Nashville, December 5-9.
The Teachers Turn the Key scholarship brings together agricultural educators with four or fewer years of experience and immerses them in three days of professional development that addresses issues specific to the early years of teaching agriculture. Participants also have the opportunity to become involved in NAAE leadership and network with other NAAE convention attendees. TTTK awardees come away from the experience with a long-lasting peer cohort and tools that will help them have successful careers as agricultural educators.
Thomas ensures his lessons are effective by incorporating different methods of instruction in his classroom. Some of these differentiated modalities include guided notes, laboratory experiences, and student presentations. Through these methods he attempts to reach all students, as each student has different learning preferences.
“He approaches everything he does with a high level of enthusiasm that is contagious with his students,” said Keith Leatherman, principal at Wauseon High School.
Thomas uses a blend of classroom instruction, student driven, work-based experiences, and leadership training through FFA to give his students well-rounded learning opportunities. For instance, students in his Mechanical Principles class built watering systems for the FFA chapter’s raised beds. They also designed and constructed wagons to ADA specifications, which were used to transport elementary school students during an FFA program.
In addition to attending professional development, each of the TTTK scholarship recipients was also recognized at a general session during the NAAE convention. RAM Trucks sponsors the TTTK program as a special project of the National FFA Foundation.
NAAE is the professional organization in the United States for agricultural educators. It provides its’ more than 8,000 members with professional networking and development opportunities, professional liability coverage, and extensive awards and recognition programs. The mission of NAAE is “professionals providing agricultural education for the global community through visionary leadership, advocacy and service.” The NAAE headquarters are in Lexington, Kentucky.