This is an article from the November 2017 edition of NAAE’s News & Views Newsletter. To read News & Views in its entirety, please visit this link.
If you had a chance to stop by the Curriculum for Agricultural Science Education (CASE) booth at National FFA Convention a few weeks ago, you could hear the buzz in the air as agriculture teachers got their first look at the newly-released CASE Institute schedule for 2018. CASE has become a staple in agricultural education professional development and the question has shifted from “Are you going to a CASE Institute this year?” to “Which CASE Institute(s) are you going to this year?”
It is often assumed that the agriculture teachers who use CASE curriculum in their classrooms are young and new to the teaching profession. However, that is not always true. For Paul Anderes, agriculture teacher at La Grande High School, in La Grande, Oregon, over thirty-one years of experience in the classroom did not stop him from shifting gears and creating a whole new agriculture program.
“My career had become stagnant,” said Anderes. “I could see the light at the end of the tunnel, but I knew I had a long way to go to get there.”
Anderes attended his first CASE Institute in 2010 to receive his Principles of Agricultural Science – Plant certification. He was able to use what he learned from his first institute to not only enhance STEM in his curriculum, but to approach teaching and learning from a different angle. He was able to transform all of his classes with new presentation and questioning techniques that allow his students to reach a higher level of learning through inquiry-based instruction. This was the first step in his program’s transformation.
In 2016, Anderes was approached by his assistant principal, Scott Carpenter, who wanted to know what his vision was for growing his agriculture program. Carpenter, along with his fellow administrators, were impressed by Anderes’ focus on STEM and PLC education models through his implementation of CASE curriculum, as well as his drive to develop key partnerships within the district to move his program to the next level.
“When Scott Carpenter came to me about my vision for the agriculture program, I told him I wanted to be able to identify as a CASE school,” said Anderes. “He has been vital in making sure that I have the tools, resources, and opportunities I need to make that happen.”
Anderes is now CASE certified in Introduction to Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources (AFNR), Principles of Agricultural Science – Animal (ASA), and Principles of Agricultural Science – Plant (ASP). These certifications have allowed him to focus on revitalizing his program and making his classroom more student-focused.
Through multiple CASE certifications, strong administrative support, and the “perfect storm” of funding, Anderes has been able to build his program immensely. He has been able to enhance STEM through CASE curriculum, provide his students with the lab equipment and materials needed to complete their CASE labs and activities, and update the program’s facilities.
“Paul Anderes has been a driving force in innovating our Agriculture/Natural Resources Pathway at La Grande High School,” said Carpenter. “He has worked tirelessly to cultivate positive relationships with community and state agencies and businesses to provide high-quality learning opportunities outside the classroom. Paul's advocacy for adopting CASE curriculum has led to increased engagement, STEM opportunities with new industry-standard technologies, and increased enrollment in his courses. Paul's work to provide quality curriculum both in and out of his classroom has been truly impressive and inspiring to staff and students alike.”
The La Grande agriculture program is one of four programs in the county that receives support from the Fox Foundation, which provides $5,000 each year in funds that Anderes puts towards LabQuest equipment and supplies. A school bond that provided $31 million district-wide for improvements allowed Anderes to remodel the program’s greenhouse and re-tool the agricultural mechanics shop. Carpenter wrote a CTE Revitalization grant worth $500,000, which along with Oregon CTE Pathways Funding provides additional support for facilities, equipment, training, and travel.
Although Anderes has a unique funding situation that has undoubtedly made a profound impact on the La Grande agriculture program, it is his motivation and determination to transform his program into something more than a traditional agriculture program that has truly made the difference.
“As a teacher, sometimes you need to be the catalyst for change for your agriculture students, program, or school,” said Anderes.
La Grande currently has 130 students enrolled in its agriculture program, which offers six classes. The program also has 50 active FFA members.
For more information about CASE and to see the 2018 CASE Institute schedule, click here.