Three Carroll County Public Schools educators won state-level awards for agricultural education.
Angie McCauslin, supervisor of Career and Technology Education; Bridget Nicholson, an agriscience teacher at Manchester Valley High School; and Diane Safar, an agriscience teacher at Winters Mill High School all won awards from the Maryland Agriculture Teachers Association, according to a news release from CCPS.
The Maryland winners for 2018 are now nominated for the national level awards.
McCauslin won the Advocate Award, which, according to the news release, recognizes “an individual for his or her outstanding contributions to agricultural education through any of the following: legislative action; local school, county-wide and state-wide support; and youth activities.”
She said via email that she won the award because of her support and dedication for CCPS’ agriculture education and FFA programs
“These programs are essential to preparing students for future careers in the agriculture industry, participating in competitions at the local, state, and national levels and developing essential leadership skills,” she said.
McCauslin said as an alumna of CCPS, she found FFA invaluable.
She has worked in Carroll schools for 20 years, having taught business education and coached at Francis Scott Key High School, served as an assistant principal at North Carroll High School and served as principal at Northwest Middle School prior to her current position as supervisor for Career and Technology Education.
“Career and technology education programs provide students the opportunity to earn an industry certification and leave high school career and college ready,” McCauslin said. “Working with teachers, administrators and community members to provide students real-world opportunities to showcase their skills and abilities is what drives my passion for CTE. Finding ways to ensure we provide industry-standard equipment, skilled teachers and learning environments is essential to the success of our programs and students.
“It is essential that we as educators, as well as community members, continue to cultivate and advocate for our students in agriculture education and the FFA organization. These students are doing amazing things,” she added.
Nicholson won the Teacher Mentor Award. This award “recognizes experienced teachers who serve as mentors to beginning teachers,” according to the release. Nicholson has mentored Shelby Althoff, who works at Francis Scott Key High School.
While she said she wasn’t surprised to win the award, it was an honor to be recognized for her work.
“I think it was an awesome opportunity just to share the knowledge that I have,” she said of the mentorship.
Nicholson said she helped Althoff with planning and curriculum, and was also there if she’d had a bad day or needed advice for dealing with behavioral issues.
She said she was able to develop a connection with the FSK teacher because she, too, is a young educator. Nicholson has been teaching in Carroll for three years, after one year at an Anne Arundel County school and two in the state of Indiana.
Safar won a total of four awards: the Outstanding Agriculture Teacher Award, the Ag Mechanics Professional Award, the Teacher of Teachers Award and the 20 Years of Service Award.
The Outstanding Teacher Award “recognizes teachers who are conducting the highest quality agriculture education programs, as well as leadership in civic, community, agriculture, and professional activities,” according to the release. The Ag Mechanics Professional Award “recognizes agriscience teachers for outstanding accomplishments within their area of expertise,” according to the release. And the Teacher of Teachers award is for having a former student become an agriscience teacher. Althoff, who has been mentored by Nicholson, is a graduate of Winters Mill High School and is now an agriscience teacher.
Safar said she was nominated by her peers for the biggest award — the Outstanding Teacher Award.
“When I did get that award I felt humbled,” she said.
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There was a lot of competition, she added, and it’s a really prestigious award to be an outstanding teacher in the state.
Safar said they were looking to see what teachers do in the classroom and lab, and how you relate the classroom to a career.
She’s been at Winters Mill since it opened, and also worked part time at Westminster High School and spent three years at South Carroll High School.
There’s just something about agriculture education that’s important to her, she said. She has a passion for the subject matter.
It’s something people should care about, she added, because it’s the largest industry of employment. Student should know where the food comes from and how to take care of the environment, Safar said.
“In some way, most of the population works in agriculture,” she said. “Everyone touches agriculture every day, every meal you eat has to do with ag.”