Teaching core classes such as language arts or math via remote learning has been a challenge to some of the best high school educators in the country.
During nearly 18 months of remote learning in Oregon, teaching more hands-on subjects such as agricultural science and technology brought another level of challenges.
Sutherlin High School teacher Wes Crawford was recognized for those efforts Tuesday as a finalist for 2022 Oregon Teacher of the Year. Crawford was one of four instructors named as finalists for the award by the Oregon Department of Education and the Oregon Lottery. Clackamas High School language arts teacher Ethelyn Tumalad was named the overall 2022 Oregon Teacher of the Year.
Crawford, who also serves as Sutherlin’s FFA advisor, was honored during a brief ceremony where Oregon Department of Education Director Colt Gill presented both Crawford and the school with $2,000 prizes.
Crawford grew up in Sutherlin and has taught at the high school for 14 years. In May, he was recognized as the Douglas Education Service District’s 2022 regional teacher of the year.
At Wednesday’s presentation, Gill was joined by Sutherlin School District Superintendent Terry Prestianni, Sutherlin High School Principal Jon Martz, and Oregon Lottery representatives Eli Wolfe and Randy Fugate.
As the leader of Sutherlin’s FFA and agriculture programs, Martz said Crawford has been essential in the growth and success of the program.
“It’s the mission of FFA to make a positive difference in the lives of students by developing student potential for premier leadership, person growth and career success through agricultural education,” Martz said in a press release. “Wes Crawford fulfills this mission and is an intricate part o our school success. He forms positive relationships with students and encourages kids to learn new and challenging skills, while never sacrificing rigor and expectations.”
In his application to qualify for the Teacher of the Year honor, Crawford wrote about the importance of his role in helping students from varying backgrounds prepare for their future, whether that future is agriculture, technology or any other field.
“Creating an environment where students can be both challenged and grow ensures that every student, regardless of their prior experience, can be confident when it is time for them to interview for a scholarship, a college admittance or a job,” Crawford said.
“As a parent, teacher and community member, it is clear the vital and dynamic role our schools and teachers fulfill in the lives of our students and in our community. “It is so evident how important this has been, and it will continue to be a critical influence in the success of our community’s future.”