Looking back on the formative years of our teaching careers, we can all remember those mentors who helped us get on our feet and keep our heads above water. For Krista Pontius, agriculture teacher at Greenwood High School, in Millerstown, Pennsylvania, the positive influence her mentors had in her early teaching career encouraged her to continue the same legacy as a mentor to new agriculture teachers in her state.
“In my early years of teaching, I relied on the advice of seasoned teachers and advisors in my tri-county area,” said Pontius. “As I began to feel comfortable in my position, I felt it was my responsibility to give back to the profession by serving as a mentor to new teachers in the field.”
For the past 14 years, Pontius has served as the mentoring coordinator for the Pennsylvania Association of Agricultural Educators. Through this role, she matches first-year agriculture teachers with appropriate mentors to welcome new teachers into the ag education family and help them get a head start in their careers. As the mentoring coordinator, she also works with individuals at Pennsylvania State University to conduct workshops, webinars, and other forms of support for new agriculture teachers throughout the year.
Most recently, Pontius worked with NAAE to host Pennsylvania’s first Agriculture Inquiry Institute. This event brought together teachers with varying levels of experience and introduced them to inquiry-based teaching and learning. Numerous participants commented that this event was the best professional development experience of their careers.
Pontius plans to continue her work as a mentor and mentoring coordinator for the state of Pennsylvania. She values the influence mentoring agriculture teachers have in new teachers’ lives and wants to develop more opportunities for teachers in all phases of their careers to come together and collaborate.
It is for her hard work and dedication as a mentor coordinator that Pontius was selected as the 2017 NAAE Region VI Outstanding Service Citation award recipient. NAAE recognizes current and retired NAAE members who have made significant contributions to agricultural education at the state, regional, and national levels with the Outstanding Service Citation award. This program is sponsored by Goodheart-Willcox.
Follow this link for more information about this award category and to see the other regional award winners.