Student teaching – the pinnacle of an aspiring ag teacher’s educational experience and classroom preparation. Every ag teacher can relate to the juxtaposed feelings of excitement and fear for what lies ahead.
“Do I have what it takes?”
“Will the students respect me?”
“Will my cooperating teacher be helpful?”
“Do I want the students to like me? What if they don’t?”
“What if I forget everything and freeze in front of the class?”
Although overwhelming, student teaching can be one of the greatest learning experiences for future agriculture teachers. Mr. Cade LeJeune, agriculture teacher at Springfield High School in Springfield, Louisiana, believes in using this experience to help his student teachers take the first steps from nervous and unsure towards becoming established and respected members of the teaching community.
Located in a prime strawberry production area of Louisiana, LeJeune aligns his classroom curriculum to meet the needs of the community. His students learn about production agriculture and the marketing therein, as it applies to the local strawberry market. He feels that it is important for ag teachers to help their students understand the local agriculture community as a means to connect with and establish lasting partnerships.
“During my student teaching semester, I was able to take advantage of the greenhouse to teach plant science,” said Bradley Coleman, LeJeune’s student teacher during the spring semester of 2015. “Following the unit, I took the students on a field trip to a local strawberry farm to learn about production and marketing practices. Upon returning to school, the students applied what they learned in their own garden plots.”
Now a graduate of Louisiana State University, Coleman attributes his successes as a new ag teacher at Ponchatoula High School, in Ponchatoula, Louisiana, to the guidance of LeJeune.
“Mr. LeJeune dedicated his time to ensure my success and growth as a student teacher,” said Coleman. “He spent countless hours guiding me in my teaching skills, classroom management strategies, community engagement, laboratory instruction, FFA chapter organization, program stakeholder interaction, and overall professional growth.”
In addition to instilling the importance of community partnerships with his student teachers, LeJeune also encourages them to become actively involved in both the Louisiana Agriscience Teachers’ Association (LATA) and the National Association of Agricultural Educators (NAAE). It is through connections made in both of these organizations that young teachers build relationships with other teacher mentors and each other – essential parts of becoming well-established in the agricultural education community.
LeJeune’s dedication to providing student teachers with a well-rounded experience in his agriculture program is the reason he was selected at the 2015 NAAE Region II Teacher Mentor award recipient. It is thanks to teachers like LeJeune that our profession continues to grow and develop outstanding teachers.
The NAAE Teacher Mentor award program is sponsored by CEV Multimedia. For more information about the award program and to read about all of the 2015 NAAE Teacher Mentor award winners, click here.
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