Stories to Celebrate: Redmond Teachers Garner Recognition for Dedication to Agriculture in the Classroom

The Redmond community has long been known for its agricultural heritage and prowess. The District is proud to have many strong agricultural educators who choose to skillfully weave the concepts of agriculture into the classroom in a way that excites, engages and inspires students of all ages. 

2019 was a year to remember as two Redmond School District educators were recognized on a national level for their skill and commitment to agriculture in the classroom. Dawn Alexander of Tom McCall Elementary and Lance Hill of Redmond High School were both highlighted for their work and we’re proud to share their stories in our last Stories to Celebrate of 2019.

Dawn Alexander is a 5th grade teacher at Tom McCall Elementary School. Dawn has more than 35 years of teaching experience and has been integrating agriculture into her elementary classrooms since she began teaching in Nevada. Early in her teaching days Dawn became acquainted with Agriculture in the Classroom, a National organization dedicated to supporting teachers with agriculture studies and resource materials for classroom instruction.

This summer, Dawn was honored by Agriculture in the Classroom as one the top eight educators in the nation for her work in the classroom! She was selected for the 2019 National Excellence in Teaching about Agriculture Award and was honored in Salt Lake City this past year!  

Dawn has become so known for her work that even Oregon State University professor, Dr. Dominique Bachelet, from the Department of Biological and Ecological Engineering, contacted Dawn for her feedback. Dr. Bachelet is creating an online course for college students wanted Dawn’s insight on the curriculum for 5th grade students. The course focuses on students taking family recipes, researching each ingredient and where the foods come from. She is clearly a resource for not only other elementary educators, but for collegiate level educators seeking to make agriculture more relevant in the classroom.

Dawn Alexander is the first teacher from Oregon to win an Excellence in Teaching Award from National Agriculture in the Classroom, or NAIC, an organization aimed at increasing agricultural literacy from kindergarten through high school. Congratulations, Dawn, for this amazing honor!

This past year was also a year of highlighting the work of an outstanding secondary educator, Lance Hill, for his work as a mentor in agriculture education. Redmond High School teacher Lance Hill has been working as an educator for 22 years. He is currently the Agriculture Science and Technology teacher at RHS and is also the sponsor for the Redmond High School FFA Chapter. He has been at Redmond High School for 10 years and is known and loved by all of the students that have had the opportunity to take his courses. 

Mentorship has been the theme of Lance’s more than 22 year career. He has hosted nine student teachers and seven early field experiences. Of those current student teachers and early field experiences, seven of the nine student teachers and six of the seven early field experiences are still in the teaching profession. In addition to mentoring fellow educators, Lance continuously mentors students in their endeavors. He works tirelessly to connect members of the Redmond agricultural business community with students through FFA and other avenues to create unique experiences for students.

“Each of these experiences has given me an opportunity to share what I know about the classroom and FFA and also taught me to stay up to date in my practices to ensure student teachers are getting the most out of experiences in my program. I also have kept lasting relationships with my student teachers and still check-in with them on a regular basis. Several of my mentees have even mentioned that I am like a “father figure” to them. These are the moments that help me realize how important mentoring is.” shared Lance.

This year, Lance as chosen as the Oregon Agriculture Teachers Association Teacher Mentor of the Year! Lance shared during this award process that the quote by Robert Ingersoll which says, “We rise by lifting others,” helps guide his mentoring philosophy. 

“Just like in Agricultural Education, we are only as strong as the people we build up beside us,” says Lance.  “I am confident I am only the teacher I am because of the friends I have made and the connections I have acquired throughout the years.”

“Teacher mentors are willing and able to give of themselves to assist other teachers,” said NAAE President Roger Teeple. “They realize that the future is in our young teachers and help prepare them to be leaders and become successful in years to come in the classroom and the community.” a The NAEE Teacher Mentor Award recognizes those educators that lend a hand to others in their profession. 

Congratulations to Lance for this amazing recognition! Redmond School District is so lucky to have your experience, talent and passion in serving our students and community!