Kaci Lockyear, a kindergarten teacher at Country View Elementary School near Winfield, was named the 2021 Janet Sims Memorial Teacher of the Year by the Kansas Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom, it was announced Thursday.
The award recognizes teachers who instill passion for learning about agriculture within their students. KFAC honors one teacher annually who has successfully integrated agricultural education into his or her pre-existing curriculum.
“I am so thankful for this opportunity,” Lockyear said. “I have been blessed with a lot of school and community support. Without that, this could have never happened. I cannot wait to showcase Country View and the ag program we have built throughout the next school year.”
Lockyear, who is in her ninth year of teaching, integrates agriculture into her classroom through hosting guest speakers from the agricultural community and having students participate in hands-on activities.
As a redesign school, Country View chose to incorporate agriculture into its redesign plan with project-based learning that gives students primary responsibility of caring for animals and crops. Each class has different responsibilities, with the fifth-grade class expected to sell eggs and engage in a small business experience, according to a news release form KFAC.
“The goal was to provide agricultural experiences and activities for our students that crossed curricular lines and encompassed all age groups,” Lockyear said. “The ultimate goal, that was realized this year, was to have animals living and crops growing on our school grounds.”
When the schools closed this spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Lockyear organized signups giving Country View families an opportunity to feed and take care of the animals at the school, according to a post on the Country View Facebook page. A number of families have volunteered and appear to love taking care of the animals, as evidenced by repeat signups and social media posts.
“This award could not have gone to a better recipient. So happy Mrs. Lockyear’s talent for blending her love for kids and agriculture together is being recognized,” the post states.
Lockyear will be recognized during the 2020 KFAC annual meeting in November in Manhattan and will receive an all-expense paid trip to the 2021 National Agriculture in the Classroom conferencein Des Moines, Iowa.
Lockyear will also be considered for the 2021 National Excellence in Teaching About Agriculture Award, presented by National Agriculture in the Classroom.