Thompson wins state teaching awardWhen Lee Thompson took the agriculture teaching position at Goodhue High School, he thought he’d probably stay there a year, get some experience and move on.
By: Sarah Gorvin, The Republican Eagle
When Lee Thompson took the agriculture teaching position at Goodhue High School, he thought he’d probably stay there a year, get some experience and move on.
It was his first teaching job, and the Red Wing resident never imagined that he’d still be in Goodhue 33 years later.
“I loved it,” he said. “It was such a good experience. I liked the job, the people.”
In recognition of his work with the school’s agriculture program, Thompson was awarded the Minnesota Association of Agricultural Educators Outstanding Agricultural Education Teacher award this past spring. He was presented with a trophy and plaque at the organization’s summer conference July 11.
Because the award is open to both high school and post-secondary agricultural teachers across Minnesota, there was quite a bit of competition. Thompson said he was nominated for the award by fellow agriculture teachers in the area.
“It’s nice to be recognized by your peers,” he said. “It’s a good feeling.”
A changing field
Since Thompson began teaching, he said the field has changed dramatically. Keeping up with that changing curriculum, Thompson said, is one of the most challenging — but important — things about his job.
“A lot of things in agriculture change,” he said. “You always have to make sure what you’re teaching is current.”
Now, agriculture isn’t just planting and growing crops, Thompson said. The goal is to give students a bigger understanding of agriculture as a whole.
“That’s what I try to drive home. … There’s so many different disciplines that come into agriculture,” he said, adding that science, math and business can play strong roles in the field.
Because of that, the teacher said he’s worked hard to try to partner with the school’s math and science departments, as well as other community organizations, “rather than just being an island.”
Agriculture’s expanded reach also means that Thompson has had to expand his course offerings. This past year, Thompson taught 12 different courses, and will teach about the same number next year. Keeping up with that many courses and their rapidly changing curricula means Thompson spends a lot of preparing and planning.
“It’s hard to do because there’s no duplicates,” he said.
But Thompson said that his work to make sure the program fits students’ evolving needs is part of the reason he won the teaching award.
“I’ve worked hard to improve the program,” Thompson said.
Still, Thompson is reluctant to take all the credit. He said Goodhue’s agriculture program has received “tremendous” support from the entire school district, especially Principal Mark Harvey. He also credits his wife Julie, who teaches fifth grade at Twin Bluff Middle School, for her support.
Thompson also pointed to his students’ successes as well, including Jered Luhman and Shawna Conrad’s appointments as state FFA officers earlier this year.
“I think there’s been quite a few successful things happening at Goodhue,” Thompson said.