Skip navigation

Hello, my name is Abbie Smith, and this Spring I had the opportunity to student teach at Northern Burlington Regional Middle School and High School, with Dr. Robin McLean, Mr. Keith Dannucci, and Mr. Brian Hayes. During this experience, I spent the majority of my time with Dr. McLean teaching Agriscience 7, Agriscience 8, and CASE AFNR. I also taught Advanced Animal Science with Mr. Dannucci and I spent five weeks with Mr. Hayes and his Small Gas Engines class.


In addition to the teachers that I worked with directly, I got the opportunity to work with a great team of teachers, administrators, and staff at both schools. Each individual I had the opportunity to work with had something to teach me during the experience. Thanks to this varied experience I have a few different takeaways from my student teaching experience.


1. Be Proactive: By being proactive in my planning and other activities I will be better able to serve my students. I have made strides in my planning skills throughout my internship; however, I still have a way to go. By continuing to become more proactive I can ensure that I have all materials I need for my students and I will be able to request the space I need for different activities.


2. Familiarity leads to comfort: One big thing that I noticed is that the more familiar I was with a concept the more comfortable I was with presenting it to my classes. By taking different classes and courses through Penn State Extension I hope to gain more knowledge in the areas I have less background knowledge in. By doing so I will become more familiar with the concepts and more comfortable when teaching them. As I expand my own knowledge, I will also be better able to serve my students, since I will have a better understanding of topics and concepts, we discuss I will be better able to explain them and offer better resources to my students.


3. Don’t be afraid to reach out: In any career communication is key, this is especially true when you are working with people. By reaching out to people in your community, school, and other agriculture teachers you will be able to build relationships that can aid you and your students in their future trials. I know that communication is one factor that I have struggled with throughout my student teaching career. However, as I have moved forward, I have learned that I cannot rely solely on myself and my abilities. While they are key to having a good program there are many moving parts to having a good program, this includes the school staff and community involvement.


During my student teaching experience, I learned the value of each of these concepts. By fostering growth in these areas I hope that I will be able to continue to grow and improve as an individual and teacher.

Kaitlin Liszka

The Most Powerful Words

Posted by Kaitlin Liszka Apr 25, 2020

Post from And Some Combat Boots: Week 15 – The Most Powerful Words – A Farm Girl, Her Bible, & Some Combat Boots  

This is where I am supposed to write a meaningful blog post that sums up my student teaching experience and is a big overall reflection. I know this will come as a shocker to many, but I'm not gonna do what I am supposed and go by my own rules here because I'm not quite ready to do that. (That was sarcasm by the way, I rarely follow the status quo when it comes to completing my assignments.) I'm still to in the trenches to look back and say what the big takeaways of what I learned are. I need some space to step away and reflect back, so this post will not be the one the that sums up the beginnings of Miss. Liszka's Teaching Adventures. Instead it will be just like my other posts, a wrap up of one more week.

I believe the things we repeatedly hear or read are what we believe, which is why it is so important that we are working to build each other, but that has also made me intentional about the messages that I hang in places that I always see. I have two signs in my living room that I see pretty much consistently and NEED the reminders that are handing their.

One sign says "When in doubt, just Pray" dad the other says "I Choose Joy".



When times are tough and I am riding the emotional roller coaster I talked about last week, I need those reminders. This week was an especially rough emotional roller coaster, that I really wasn't expected.

I luckily put more intention into my mental health by I repotting a bunch of things I got from the greenhouse, delivering some earth day peppers to my neighbor, dusting off my guitar for the one billionth time (maybe quarantine will actually get me to learn how to play), and going on a run. When I bought my soil and Monday when I started to repot, I had not idea what the rest of my week was gonna bring.

I capped off my student teaching experience losing someone I cared about a lot and who helped foster my love of a lot of things, including agriculture, my grandfather. He is the reason I think making maple syrup is so intriguing and why I love the smell of the woodshop. He also is a part of the musical talent that I cling to when times are rough comes from. I guess you could say that he helped inspire me to want to teach because I want everyone to have the smile inducing memories I have when I think of those things.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is screenshot_20200424-120618_photos.jpg

This extra emotion roller coaster combined with not really having human interaction for the past month has made me extra crabby and extra snappy. Those who I am closest to can definitely attest to that because unfortunately it has come out on them, even though none of it is their fault.

There is another sign in my living room that I also had in the classroom while I student teaching because I truly believe it to be true and want my students to understand the message as well. It says "The most powerful words to change the world: I'm Sorry". This week has definitely been a week of putting those words into practice and I pray that I someday will be able to teach my students the power of putting pride aside to use those words through my example.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 20200425_174819.jpg

I think though that the most powerful words are actually the ones that you continue to let into your mind because those are the words that will shape your thoughts and who are are. So I hope that you are filling your mind with messages to help build you up and inspire you to change the world!

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is sign-post-e1521169876939.png

Some of this week's fun:


Jessica Barnhart

"Don't Blink"

Posted by Jessica Barnhart Apr 24, 2020

It's a verse to a song, something my parents say, and it's something I wish I never did; Blink. Because all of a sudden, it was over...

I remember sitting in the Derry Ag Building and my ag teachers pushing me to at least apply for college. I remember the tears when I first moved to Penn State Altoona. The happiness during my first Ag Awareness Day, the friends I made, and then I moved again with lots of tears up to University Park with a new major of Agricultural and Extension Education.

I remember finally feeling a sense of belonging, taking my first AEE class and meeting those people who where to be in my cohort. The laughs we had, the places we went, the hard times that bonded us like I have never been bonded to a group of people.

I remember accidentally stumbling across my Cooperating Center because of the PA Wildlife CDE. Nervous for my placement interview, crossing my fingers that they see what I saw and then being officially placed at Brockway Area High which was one of the best things that has ever happened to me.

I remember the nights we stayed on campus until 2:00am. When we got a lot done, but I think the true reason we did it was to stay with each other longer because we knew it wouldn't be long until we would be apart. The plane ride across the country, the cohort pictures and the nights spent just talking to eachother. I remember tears of happiness rolling down my face at the end of final presentations because I truthfully felt like I could tackle the world.


I remember, and I will never forget, the first time I truthfully felt like I had made a difference, the pranks that my students had pulled, the late nights and early mornings, the pure joy I had teaching these bright young minds and the pain I felt when I couldn't say goodbye.

I'm telling you, please don't blink.

Because when I think about all I have done and all of those people who truly have made me who I am, I want to go back.

Kyle Norman and Matt Holt, thank you for treating me like I was the third teacher in your program. I can't begin to explain how lucky I feel to have had an experience were I was able to learn things outside of my comfort zone (including all of the spicy foods). I was never told "no" to an idea and always was encouraged to experiment and explore and it truly will make me a better teacher when I land that first job.

My students, thank you for always being patient with me while I learn. You're all in my heart, you're part of my story and I miss you all like crazy. You're all amazing individuals and I can't wait to see how high you fly.

Penn State Family, each one of you have pushed me to grow to be the best educator that I can be. Your constant support is an act that has really made a difference in my life and I know this journey is only the beginning. Thank you.



Here's to #psuaged20


And just like that... Today is the final day of student teaching. I can't believe it. This semester has flown by and has taken a turn that I never could have imagined. I never would have thought that this would be the way student teaching would end. Although, through these unfortunate times, I have grown even more as an educator and learned so many more great things through distance learning. There has been an overwhelming number of resources that has been shared and I can't wait to use them in the future. 


Student teaching was not like anything I could have expected. Going into this, there are so many fears and concerns. So many questions. But all of that worrying and stress was for nothing. This was an amazing experience. Yes, there were many challenges and stresses for preparing the right lesson and planning for the next week. But it was all worth it. I might not have been able to teach all of the lessons and units I wanted, but that's okay! All of the time and energy that has gone into this experience was worth it. I just can't believe that it is already over. 

Favorite Moments

I actually have two favorite moments. The first one may come surprising to some but it was actually during the welding unit. If you know me, Ag Mechanics is not my area of strength but I had a lot of fun with this unit. I learned so much. Not only about the process and theory but how to teach it. I have a lot to work on but what made it all worth it was the students. Listening to students tell me how terrified they are of welding and trying to get out of class was something else! But after a lot of convincing and watching those same students weld... That made it all worth it. To see a student's attitude change and then realize that, this is actually pretty cool. That type of reaction then motivates me to want to become better at welding so that this can become even more meaningful. 


My second favorite moment happened during National FFA Week. We hosted an event, Koins for Kindler. A recent graduate of Conneaut Area FFA was diagnosed with leukemia. The students decided to support her in every way we can as a chapter. We sold over 250 these awesome shirts and raised so much money for the family. As a student teacher, it was amazing to see everyone come together from not only the chapter but throughout the entire school to show support for a student. That is what FFA is all about. I was so happy and thankful that I had a chance to be apart of this. 


To My Cooperating Center 

Conneaut Area FFA has something really special, the students. Yes, the staff at Conneaut is awesome and there are so many great teachers in the building. Thank you to all of the teachers for the positive words of advice and encouragement through my student teaching! Every class I have had the privilege of teaching, there are so many great students who I know are going to achieve so much. Thank you to all of the students who were patient with me as I worked through learning how to teach! I am sure some lessons were rough but thanks to all of your support and positive attitudes, this made my student teaching internship that much better. I miss all of you! I really wish that my student teaching would have ended in a better way. But I promise I will do my absolute best to make it to next year's banquet! 


To My Cooperating Teacher 

Ms. Metrick, thank you so much for everything. Thank you so much for your patience, support, and wealth of knowledge. Going into student teaching, I was not very sure if I wanted to teach but after this experience, this is where I want to be. All thanks to the experiences from your classroom, students, and program. You really do have an amazing program. I had so much fun learning not only how to teach and how to do so many things but also how to be an amazing advisor. I had no idea that allowing students to throw pies into your face was in the job description! I promise that was another favorite moment too! I feel lucky that I was able to be your first student teacher! Thank you for everything! 



Thank You Conneaut Area FFA! 


To #PSUAgEd20 

We did it! Congratulation #PSUAgEd20 Cohort! What an incredible ride! Everyone in this cohort is so amazing. I have thoroughly enjoyed watching everyone grow on social media during student teaching. Seeing all of you do so many great and different things during student teaching helped me so much. Whether you are going into the classroom or into the industry, all of you are going to be outstanding leaders in this amazing field. I am so happy that I have had the chance to grow and experience this process with all of you! 

Hello!  Thank you for checking out my blog post.  Check out my final reflection and entire semester of student teaching experiences here:

Throughout the entire 16 weeks of student teaching it has been a rollercoaster ride. I have had the best time of my entire four years of college in my internship. Starting out in January, I had no idea things would drastically change near the end of my internship. As we get ourselves strapped into our coaster car, think about this question. How do you stay mentally strong in a time of uncertainty?


Now that we are all strapped in on our coaster car, let us head up the first hill. Beginning of student teaching there was a lot of anxiousness in everything that I did. I was so nervous taking on classes that I knew relatively little about compared to my cooperating teacher. I prepared lessons and research as much as I could to be prepared enough to teach the content. Once I started to take over classes, I found my anxiousness start to disappear and I became more comfortable in teaching my students. After this first hill, I felt a sense of confidence in my teaching abilities. I am not the best teacher, but I could at least start to be more natural in the classroom and mechanics lab.


Uh oh! Now we have a loop-de-loop. Moving into taking on a full load of classes, I started to think, "How am I going to get all of my assignments, lesson planning, and content created?" Having six classes and five preps made it difficult to balance my work/personal life. Strategically planning out my week became a norm so I could still enjoy some personal time throughout the week. Coming out of the loop-de-loop, I realized my fears weren't as bad as I thought.


Ohh no!! Corkscrew! This challenge was by far the worst. Navigating remote online learning. Coming to the end of my internship, I had to figure out how in the world to teach skill-based mechanics courses through remote/online ways. I researched multiple discussion groups, NAAE CoP, and finding resources on my own to deliver good instruction.


After all the corkscrew of student teaching, I had some time to look back upon my entire internship and thought, "The entire ride of student teaching may look intimidating, but getting on the ride, taking each challenge one at a time you will have the thrill ride of your life." I enjoyed my internship, students, and colleagues. I will always look back on this experience as the oddest way to start my teaching career.

Hello! My name is Amanda Gagné and I student taught the past semester at Conrad Weiser Area High School in Robisonia, Pa with Mr.Adam Serfass. I was lucky to be able to teach half a rotation of 7th and 8th grade agriculture with Mrs.Tabitha Meredith at the Middle School and then 2 sections of Introduction to Ag and 2 units in the Current Topics in Agriculture Class at the High School.


I had a ton of take aways from student teaching. I was able to work with a great team from the middle and high school science department at Weiser and was able to see myself growing each week. In this blog I will highlight the 3 key take aways from my time at Conrad Weiser. 


1. Be flexible: Just like us, students have a ton of things going on in their lives. Bending to a certain degree is really important. If I cannot show my students I am flexible then how can I expect them to be flexible with me? Flexibility also comes into play with other teachers, events and other activities in the school. I should want the students to be engaged with other activities of the school and encourage that instead of being a stickler on some work because they might be away. 


2. Engage with others: My program might be me as the sole agricultural teacher. I cannot do everything and need to be able to work with others in the building. In addition, I am not the only teacher my students interact with on a daily basis. It is better for everyone if I work with other teachers in the building to provide the best support to students. Colleagues in the building provide assistance in my class, to my students and working with them provides a great sense of community in the building. I should try at least once a year to co teacher with another teacher in the building. I saw while student teaching how Mr.Serfass connected the photography students into a FFA event we did to give them experience of filming an event. It is small connections like those that help create a stronger program and school community.


3.Change is good: I plan to actively seek professional development to help myself grow as an educator. We are always seeing new and emerging ideas in education. I need to be okay to step out of my comfort zone and try them. Something that Mr.Serfass tells his students with SAE is "The sky is the limit." I think that is one quote from him that will stick with me in my own class. There are obviously some barriers when trying to do things in my classroom but, I won't know till I try. There usually is a way to modify my ideas to get a similar outcome.

My experience as a student teacher at Conrad Weiser was incredible. I stepped far out of my comfort zone at times and tried new things. I also got some experience of teaching online due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. I gained a ton of experience and got to work with a great group of individuals. I am beyond excited to now embark on my own journey of my first year teaching. 




Amanda M Gagné-Penn State Teach Ag 2020.

Filter Blog

By date: By tag: