Jeanna James, agricultural educator at Southern Door County School District in Brussels, is one of only six individuals nationwide who received the Outstanding Young Member Award, given at the National Association of Agricultural Educators annual convention in Nashville, Tenn., Nov. 18-22.
James has been teaching agriculture at Southern Door County School District since 2008 and infuses many hands-on activities into her lessons that help students retain information and draw connections between the concepts they are learning and the world around them.
She has also played an instrumental role in gaining approval from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction allowing her agriculture courses to be offered for graduation and post-secondary acceptance science credit.
James also incorporates skills students learn in other subject areas into her lessons. For instance, students use their reading strategies by finding current event articles in newspapers and magazines that correlate with what they are learning in class. Horticulture students use the RAFT method, (where students are given a role, audience, format and topic) to write a love letter to the soil from the perspective of a plant.
Math skills are tested weekly in James’ classroom by determining feed rations, dosage, percentages and drawing to scale. Students also complete mapping activities to apply skills and knowledge from their social studies courses.
“It takes an outstanding individual to walk into their job Monday morning with as much enthusiasm and energy as the Friday before,” said Kimberly Schadrie, Hartford Union High School agriscience instructor. “Every day in her class is an adventure that students willingly dive into, simply because Jeanna sets the tone through her own attitude. Furthermore, enthusiasm breeds innovation: the energy she exudes not only challenges her students to engage, but causes her to push herself further.”
Jeanna thanked the Southern Door administration for the support they have given her in achieving professional growth, and her students, who, she said, inspire her daily.
To help other educators understand how to integrate inquiry-based learning into their agriscience classrooms, James serves as a DuPont Agriscience Ambassador. After completing a weeklong training at the DuPont farm in Maryland, she now gives teacher workshops around the U.S. to train other teachers in inquiry-based teaching skills and how to engage students effectively in the areas of agriculture-based science and math.
Each of the six 2014 NAAE Outstanding Young Member winners received special recognition at the NAAE convention. John Deere sponsors the Outstanding Young Member program as a special project of the National FFA Foundation. NAAE is the professional organization in the United States for agricultural educators. It provides its’ nearly 8,000 members with professional networking and development opportunities, professional liability coverage, and extensive awards and recognition programs. The mission of NAAE is “professionals providing agricultural education for the global community through visionary leadership, advocacy and service.”
You can read more about Jeanna James’ commitment to teaching in a cameo by Gary Jones in the winter issue of Door County Living.