2021 Teacher of the Year
Congratulations, Dusti McCartney, 2021 Oklahoma Ag in the Classroom Teacher of the Year.
Each year, students anxiously look forward to finding out who their teacher will be and they hope it will be someone who makes learning exciting. Parents hope for a teacher who will challenge their students, while making a lasting impact on their lives. Parents and students in Ada, Oklahoma are fortunate to have Dusti McCartney as an option. Oklahoma Ag in the Classroom (AITC) is excited to announce Ms. McCartney is the 2021 Oklahoma Ag in the Classroom Teacher of the Year. "Dusti McCartney does not work or serve for awards or accolades, but to simply inspire and impact all those she comes in contact with each day," said Eddie Jacobs, Willard 5th and 6th Grade Center Principal for Ada Public Schools.
McCartney, who has taught at Ada Public Schools for 11 years, started participating in Ag in the Classroom workshops when she was a preservice teacher. Since then, she has attended "On the Road with Ag in the Classroom" road trips, attended and presented at the Oklahoma AITC State Summer Conferences, and attended National Ag in the Classroom Conferences. Ms. McCartney said, "Attending a school system with no agriculture programs, I knew very little about what bringing agriculture into the classroom would look like. I had some knowledge of farming and ranching and respected the families and their hard work, spending many hours in the garden with my grandmother or in the barn with my grandfather, but I had no idea how essential agriculture was to everyone's lives worldwide, nor how pertinent it was for my students that I bring this topic into my classroom."
"Entering into the field of education, I never envisioned agriculture as a focus for a magnitude of my lessons," said Dusti McCartney. "Today, I cannot imagine a day in my classroom without an agriculture centered discussion or project. My students are encouraged to actively participate, form opinions, research, and make informed assertions regarding agricultural topics." Ms. McCartney started her teaching career as a reading teacher. She loved teaching literature, but soon realized her students were struggling to make connections between their lives and the literature they were studying. On top of this, many of them were coming to school hungry. Ms. McCartney began searching for a way to help her students. This is when she found a book of AITC lessons she received as a college student on an AITC road trip. "Many of these lessons allowed me to not only teach engaging content, but also feed my students a healthy snack. This discovery forever altered the way I approached teaching," stated McCartney.
Ms. McCartney now teaches sixth grade science and STEM/AG. "My STEM/AG class is the only agriculture class in my entire school system. Watching the students’ attitudes towards agriculture change with each lesson as they interact with pumpkins, soybeans, or even a chicken is one of the greatest things that I have ever experienced," Dusti shared. "I am always excited to share with my fellow teachers, whether chatting in the hallway or presenting to a larger group, the importance of incorporating agriculture into everyday learning. Ag in the Classroom has been an essential part of me becoming who I am as an educator."
"Ms. McCartney has a calling, and that calling is teaching," said Mr. Jacobs. "She teaches her students to strive for excellence, to love Ag and Science, and to respect each other. Ms. McCartney has a passion for Ag, and she’s given students at Ada an opportunity to learn something new and exciting." McCartney has won many honors and awards including: Masonic Teacher of Today (2012 & 2018) and Recipient of the Flight Night Scholarship for STEM Professional Development. She has also written and received many grants including: OEIP Virtual Industry Connections Grant, Home Depot Grant for Gardens, Ada City Schools Foundation Grants, and Farm Bureau Foundation Literacy Grants.
Anne Gray, school counselor at Willard stated, "I have worked with Ms. McCartney for more than 10 years. She has proven to be a dedicated and driven educator. Her excitement for science is contagious. She works diligently to assure that her students have access to a variety of programs. If that means working on weekends & during the summer, she's there. Her students experience hands on learning in the classroom. She doesn't just lecture to students, she engages them."
State AITC Coordinator, Audrey Harmon, said, "When you see Dusti in her classroom, it is obvious she has a passion for educating her students about agriculture. Her students are excited, engaged, and eager to learn. I had the opportunity to visit her classroom and her students' knowledge was impressive. But what impressed me most was the relationship Ms. McCartney has with her students. Oklahoma AITC is honored to have Ms. McCartney represent us as the 2021 AITC Teacher of the Year."
Dusti McCartney is to be honored at the state Capitol in Oklahoma City as part of the state's annual Oklahoma Ag Day celebration Tuesday, March 23. Teacher of the Year sponsors include Oklahoma Ag Credit, Oklahoma Beef Council, Oklahoma Farm Bureau Women, and Oklahoma Department of Agriculture Food and Forestry.
To learn more about Ag in the Classroom curriculum, visit https://ok.agclassroom.org/ or contact Audrey Harmon, an Oklahoma AITC coordinator, at (405) 740-0160 or email@example.com.