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Amanda Oldfield (left) nominated WIU agriculture alumnus Brian Stahl (right) for the Moline Dispatch's 2009 Master Teacher Award. Stahl teaches agriculture and related subjects at Geneseo (IL) High School. Along with 12 other teachers (8 of whom attended WIU), Stahl was honored at a May 8 program in Moline (IL).
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Master Teacher Honor Goes to Ag Alumnus

May 20, 2009

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MACOMB/MOLINE, IL -- There are milestones in every career, but as an educator, among the most memorable of them occurs when a student takes the time to let you know you've made a difference in her life. Recently, Brian Stahl, an agriculture instructor at Geneseo (IL) High School, reached this milestone when a student nominated him for the Moline (IL) Dispatch's/Rock Island (IL) Argus' "Master Teacher" 2009 award.

Stahl -- who graduated from Western Illinois University in 1983 with a bachelor's degree in agriculture and earned a secondary education certificate from WIU in 1997 -- was nominated by Geneseo High School senior Amanda Oldfield. He was honored, along with 12 other Master Teachers (eight of whom attended WIU), at the newspapers' Master Teacher ceremony May 8 at the i wireless Center in Moline.

This isn't the first time Stahl has had a student recognize his teaching. In 2008, he was named a "Most Inspirational Teacher" in WIU's annual program, through which incoming students are asked to anonymously write down their most inspirational teacher during the New Student Convocation each Fall. The teachers then receive a letter from President Al Goldfarb. The program started with former President Donald S. Spencer.

As for the Master Teacher program, according to an April 12 Argus news story by Leon Lagerstam, the newspapers use "the program to salute the area's best educators." Nominees may be from public or private schools in Rock Island, Henry, Mercer or Whiteside counties in Illinois. In addition to the nomination form for the individual teachers, a minimum of four letters of support must be provided on each teacher's behalf to qualify for the honor.

A Student-Centered Approach
According to Oldfield, one of the reasons she nominated Stahl for the Master Teacher honor was due to his ability to relate to her and her fellow students.

"Mr. Stahl is caring, and he's open to new ideas," she said. "He's just a very good teacher."

Andrew Baker, a professor in WIU's agriculture department, also noted -- in a letter of support -- that Stahl's focus on the students makes him a stand out in his profession not only with Geneseo High School students, but also with college-age student teachers. In the letter, Baker explained that Stahl's ag program provides placement for Western's agriculture student teachers, so they can train and experience teaching before they graduate from college.

"Student teaching centers are carefully evaluated and selected to ensure proper supervision is conducted. I take great pride in my student teacher placement sites, because of the direct impact of this experience on the student's decision to pursue teaching as his or her profession. To ensure that objectives are met, I personally conduct visits to student-teaching sites. I was very impressed during my first visit. Mr. Stahl possessed one of the most technologically advanced classrooms in the school, and the classroom was very student centered…. Both of my student teachers, under the tutelage of Mr. Stahl, accepted teaching positions after their student-teaching experiences," Baker wrote.

Accolades for Stahl and his teaching have also come from the Illinois Association for Vocational Agriculture Teachers (IAVAT), Baker added. He was awarded the IAVAT's Excellence in Teaching Award in 2007.

"Brian has been a great mentor for pre-service teachers and an outstanding supporter for the agricultural education program at Western Illinois University," Baker added. "It was an honor and privilege to write a letter of support on his behalf, and I was excited to hear that he was selected and was recognized for his efforts in educational excellence."

For more information, contact Baker at (309) 298-1246 or

Posted By: Teresa Koltzenburg (
Office of University Communications & Marketing