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Views and opinions: Choosing student awards isn't as easy as it appears


As the school year comes to a close, my husband and I were asked to contemplate any awards that we may want to bestow on students who were exceptional in our ag science program.

Like so many teachers out there, I could give an award to each kid, even the ones who do the bare minimum – in their own way they contributed to the microcosm of our classroom.

For instance, if I could give a Calendar Award, I would award it to the one student who consistently put the date on their assignment. When you have rookie teachers who have had zero formal training, the simple task of recording grades can be daunting.

And then when you wait until the end of the semester to record grades, that not only makes administrators anxious, but it makes it difficult to remember what assignment was done on what date.

As I was trying to play catch-up on PowerSchool – the online grade posting software program – searching for a date for assignments done six weeks earlier got much easier when I found that one student who put the date on her paper. Every. Single. Time. She saved me on PowerSchool, and deserves the Calendar Award.

Of course, there is the Outstanding Senior Award and we had a tough time deciding on that one, as well. Should it go to the senior who came to every class, took notes, was quiet until called upon and asked lots of questions?

Or should we give it to the senior who was the first one to grab a pitchfork when it came time to clean out the barn, without complaint? Or the senior who offered a different perspective on discussions, or the one who was excited about whatever we said was on the agenda that day?

But there was one award that we settled on that we believe has merit, regardless of grades. We came up with the Deliberation Award. This was created because of the need in agriculture for evaluation and sound decision-making, but to be able to back up those decisions, even when they are not popular.

There were two young men in our class who had the ability to present their opinion in a manner that was not offensive but was well thought-out, filled with facts and did not ignore the importance of science in food production.

There was no question where these two young men stood in their opinions. As they continue to learn, deliberate and express themselves, they will make strong leaders and be stand-outs in a generation that so desperately needs a voice of reason with the courage to point out the difference between right and wrong.

I’m not a proponent of participation trophies, but I will say that each student is unique, and teachers are blessed to work in a profession where they engage with so many individuals and get stare the future square in the eye.


The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of Farm World. Readers with questions or comments for Melissa Hart may write to her in care of this publication.