School of Ag's Baker Named Distinguished Teacher by Assn. for Ag Ed
December 2, 2010
MACOMB, IL -- Western Illinois University School of Agriculture Professor Andrew (Andy) Baker was recently recognized as a Distinguished Teacher at the American Association for Agricultural Education (AAAE) North Central Region Conference (held in Manhattan, KS). This regional recognition puts Baker in the running for national recognition at the annual AAAE conference in May 2011, according to Andrew Thoron, Baker's colleague and an assistant professor in the agricultural and biological engineering department/agricultural education program at the University of Illinois.
"Dr. Baker was nominated for the award by Lloyd Bell at the University of Nebraska," stated Thoron in a message he sent out to an electronic-discussion list for the not-for-profit Illinois Agricultural Education group (see http://agriculturaleducation.org). "Dr. Bell cited the reason[s] for [Dr. Baker's] nomination [as]: Andy's rapport with his students, placement rate of his graduates (81 percent) into the teaching profession and retention rates within the teacher profession (72 percent)."
Thoron noted the AAAE's Distinguished Teaching Award is based on the following factors: command of the discipline; teaching methodologies; pervasive caring/exemplifying the meaning of teacher mentor; commitment to the learning process; management of the learning process; enthusiasm in and for teaching; student evaluations of teaching; advising at undergraduate or graduate levels; and communication skills.
According to Thoron, Baker received positive comments from recent WIU graduates and experienced teachers who have worked with Baker. Thoron said that Blaine Hartwick, a 2008 graduate of WIU's ag ed program who currently teaches agricultural science at Triopia High School in Concord (IL), stated: "I feel fortunate to have come out of Dr. Baker's exceptional agricultural education program, and I am very glad I chose Western to obtain my bachelor's degree. I'm also very grateful for the opportunities Dr. Baker and the School of Ag continue to offer me as a graduate of WIU."
From Stan Toepfer, agriculture instructor of 32 years at Eastland High School (Lanark, IL), Thoron obtained this comment about working with Baker: "Dr. Baker assisted me in investigating a new approach to evaluating students for learning and career placement. The whole process has excited me [so much about] the possibilities of a new approach to student learning that I have sent the report I submitted to my local school administrators for their evaluation, as well. If Dr. Baker had not taken interest in my need and had not spent time working with me. I would not have found this 'gold mine' of information. Dr. Baker's empathy and interest in helping me exemplifies what agriculture education should be all about."
Thoron noted that current WIU agricultural education student and Canton (IL) native Ashley Mason (who has served twice as the National Collegiate Agricultural Ambassador for the National FFA Organization) said of her professor: "Dr. Baker shows us all what it means to be a good teacher/mentor by being actively involved in constructive activities in the community and at WIU, while still being accessible to his students and diligent in his teaching."
For more information, contact Baker at (309) 298-1246 or AJ-Baker@wiu.edu.