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SD Department of Education
Jan. 2019  

  SD CTE teachers honored at national conference

The joint Association for Career and Technical Education/National Association of Agricultural Educators Convention took place recently in San Antonio, Texas. Kudos to the two South Dakota educators who were honored at this event!

Sara Colombe Sara Colombe, an agricultural educator at Hoven High School is one of a select group of agriculture teachers nationwide who received the 2018 Teachers Turn the Key professional development scholarship from the National Association of Agricultural Educators. As a scholarship recipient, Colombe attended the NAAE annual convention in San Antonio, Texas, Nov. 27-Dec. 1, 2018.

The Teachers Turn the Key scholarship brings together agricultural educators with two to four 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 get 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 to help them have successful careers as agricultural educators.

Colombe encourages her students to get involved within the general community of Hoven. Students in her Fundamentals of Agricultural Structures class constructed a new play sink and oven for local kindergarteners. Others helped local businesses by moving and assembling shelving in a local secondhand store. Within a greenhouse, students in her leadership class helped kids from the elementary school gain hands-on experience with plants.

Students in Colombe’s agriculture courses also have the opportunity to develop leadership skills through their participation in the national FFA organization. Throughout the year, FFA members participate in various public speaking contests and career development events, organize fundraisers such as local fruit sales, and support local farmers by making snack bags for them during harvest time.

“I decided to become an agriculture teacher because it encompasses my passions for agriculture, education, and positively influencing others,” Colombe says. “My goal as a teacher is to expose and prepare my students for the vast opportunities in the agricultural field. This challenges me to provide my students with authentic activities which encourage students to develop essential skills for their chosen career and reduce the labor shortage in the agriculture community.”

In addition to attending professional development, each of the TTTK scholarship recipients was recognized at a general session during the NAAE convention. RAM Trucks sponsors the TTTK program as a special project of the National FFA Foundation.

Noelle Swanson Noelle Swanson, an agriculture teacher at Northwestern Area High School in Mellette, is one of 21 individuals nationwide who was selected to participate in the 2018 XLR8 Institute – a professional development program which began at the 2018 National Association of Agricultural Educators’ annual convention in San Antonio.

The XLR8 program was developed by NAAE to help agriculture teachers in their seventh to fifteenth years of teaching address common issues that cause them to leave the profession, such as burnout, work/life balance, and stagnant professional growth. The program’s goal is to accelerate the selected teachers’ careers through yearlong professional development.

Selected participants engaged in rigorous professional development sessions at the convention. Topics addressed included setting priorities, work/life balance, and moving careers and agriculture programs forward over the next several years. This year’s cohort will continue their experience throughout the upcoming year with virtual learning experiences, online collaboration through the NAAE professional learning community, Communities of Practice, and by connecting through a variety of social media tools.

The goal is not only to retain XLR8 participants in the teaching profession, but to give them the tools to help other mid-career teachers. The XLR8 program is sponsored by CSX and Herman & Bobbie Wilson as a special project of the National FFA Foundation.

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