In the past 19 years of her teaching career at Versailles High School in Versailles, Ohio, Dena Wuebker has seen many changes in both education and students.She has played her own role in agricultural education reform through developing new program courses that have garnered national attention. It has been her career goal to prepare her students for life beyond the classroom and her innovative classroom ideas do just that.
"My goal is to prepare students for the future." said Wuebker. "Whether they attend a four-year college, trade school, or enter the workforce upon graduation, I want them to be successful in their lives."
To meet this goal, Wuebker recently helped develop a Capstone course for seniors enrolled in her Agribusiness course. Students spend half of their school day at Versailles High School, completing required classes, and the other half in an agricultural placement position. It's not often that students have the opportunity to receive instruction directly related to their coursework from an employer, but to Wuebker it's an essential step on their educational journey.
"My greatest contribution is my ability to provide students with enormous opportunities that connect what they have learned in the classroom, demonstrate it in the lab, and then put it into actual real life use," Wuebker said.
The development of the capstone course began when Wuebker realized that many of her students were choosing ag placement for their supervised agricultural experiences. Versailles High School had not had an occupational work experience program in many years, so Wuebker decided that a cooperative learning experience would be a great way to recruit and retain students in her program.
The capstone course not only enhances students' occupational skills, but also provides great networking experiences for future employment and educational opportunities. It is of utmost importance to Wuebker that her students leave her program equipped with the life skills of cooperation, responsibility, and communication.
"It is important to develop a student as a whole person, focusing on life skills that they will use every day. We lose the opportunity to watch them grow as professionals if we only focus on academic accomplishments," added Wuebker. "As a teacher, there is nothing greater than seeing a student grow academically and professionally throughout high school and on into their adult lives."
Wuebker's dedication to her students, school, and the agricultural education profession was recognized when she received the 2013 NAAE Region IV Outstanding Agricultural Education Teacher Award. As part of her award, Wuebker also received a two-year lease on a 2013 Toyota Tundra. Toyota sponsors the Outstanding Agricultural Education Teacher Award as a special project of the National FFA Foundation.
For more information about the Outstanding Teacher and all other NAAE awards, visit our awards page.
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