Theresa Farris, Service Valley Charter Academy kindergarten teacher, was named the Foundation's 2011 Janet Sims Memorial Teacher of the Year. She was honored at the annual State Ag Day celebration in March in Topeka. Farris was also named one of five recipients nationwide of the "Excellence in Teaching About Agriculture" award sponsored by the USDA and National Agriculture in the Classroom Consortium in June.
Farris keeps her students busy with many projects, especially hands-on learning activities. Her students take care of the school’s chickens, plant a garden on school grounds, and learn about monarch butterfly conservation.
In addition to these projects, Farris employs several strategies to teach agriculture, including an inquiry-based learning approach. Farris’ students conduct research that is driven by student questions that arise while learning a topic. “One of our trips to the chicken coop brought with it a discussion about the fact that our chickens lay brown eggs. One student made the comment that white eggs were better than brown eggs, so we created a case study to determine if we could taste the difference,” shares Farris.