LAS VEGAS — Jenna Gilliam, agricultural educator at Southern High School in Racine, Ohio, is one of 41 individuals nationwide who received the Teachers Turn the Key Award, given Dec. 7 at the National Association of Agricultural Educators (NAAE) annual convention in Las Vegas.
The Teachers Turn the Key (TTTK) award program brings together agricultural educators with four or fewer years of experience and immerses them in three days of professional development that addresses issues specific to the early years of a teaching career. Participants also have the opportunity to become involved in NAAE leadership and network with other NAAE convention attendees. TTTK award recipients come away from the experience with a long-lasting peer cohort and tools that will help them have successful careers as agricultural educators.
Gilliam has been the agriculture teacher at Southern High School since 2012, and before that taught agriculture at Hannan High School from 2009 to 2012. During her time at Southern High School and Hannan, Gilliam has received various grants totaling over $30,000, which she has used to build an outdoor learning lab and update her shop with new woodworking and welding equipment. She also used her grant money to purchase training materials for Career Development Event teams. These competitive events allow her students to apply knowledge acquired in the classroom and laboratory.
Gilliam uses her agriculture classes as a way to enhance student learning and performance in other classes by collaborating with other departments in the school. She tries to match the content being taught in classes like science and math and enhance them by giving students an opportunity to apply them in a hands-on way.
“I believe Jenna embodies what the ag ed profession is looking for in young teachers,” said Bryan Ford, agricultural educator in the Alexander School District. “Jenna has demonstrated an exceptional willingness to seek out new ideas and innovations to implement into her program.”
Each of the TTTK winners received a scholarship to cover convention registration and travel, participated in a specially designed professional development track, and was recognized at a general session. RAM Trucks sponsors the TTTK 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.” The NAAE headquarters are in Lexington, Ky.