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New York Agriculture in the Classroom


2024 Teacher of the Year

Congratulations to our 2024 NYAITC Teacher of the Year
Monica Chamberlain!

New York Agriculture in the Classroom's Teacher of the Year Award celebrates remarkable teachers who embody a passion for teaching through a lens of agriculture in their curriculum each year. We are proud to announce Monica Chamberlain, a sixth-grade teacher at Hamilton Central School, as the 2024 Teacher of the Year. Monica delivers real world, authentic learning experiences for her students by giving them open-ended opportunities to develop an awareness of the world around them, and an inner voice asking, "how can you make a positive impact in your world?".

Rarely will you see Monica's students working on a worksheet with a textbook nearby or see her standing in front of the class with slides scrolling on the board. If you look in her classroom you will see her giving direction and then stepping aside to allow students the chance to read, observe, interact, challenge, and ask questions. The student-led discussions in her class spurs inspiration and inquiry. Her students are encouraged to problem solve, to manipulate the materials and create something new from the knowledge they possess.

Monica believes that agriculture is a great catalyst for learning because it can be connected so easily to every academic subject area, and she proves that by integrating agricultural concepts into almost every subject she teaches. One of the most impactful projects her students endeavor on is building a research-based documentary that is shown at our local movie theater. The project begins by dissecting and understanding the important elements of a documentary and a high stakes research question: "How has technology influenced the agricultural industry?" Compiling and organizing their information to create a well-rounded documentary reinforces higher order thinking skills as students are challenged to make connections between concepts to communicate technology's impact on agriculture to their audience. The documentaries play for the public at the local movie theater with an ever-exciting buzz from the students, families, and the community. Not only are her students learning film production and editing skills, but they are also working to educate the public about agriculture as an industry through their work and their words.

Monica has also led her students in a challenge to help their community where they partnered with Collins Creamery to stock their school's food cupboard. In two years, they raised enough money to purchase over 470 half gallons of milk that directly benefitted students and families in their community. During this challenge, students learned how to make appropriate phone calls and send professional emails asking for donations and placed their own milk orders. Students also wrote handwritten thank you cards to each donor and worked with the owner of Collins Creamery to arrange weekly deliveries of fresh milk to the food cupboard and to understand the math behind retail and wholesale pricing.

In addition to her state-wide recognition, Monica also earned the opportunity to apply for the National Agriculture in the Classroom Organization (NAITCO) 2024 National Excellence in Teaching About Agriculture Award. This award honors teachers in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade from around the country for the innovative ways they use agricultural concepts to teach reading, writing, math, science, social studies, STEM, STEAM and more. After a rigorous application process, Monica Chamberlain, was awarded one of the eight national awards this year.

"I could not be more impressed with Monica's approach to her educational goals. She is earnest in her desire to build engagement with her students with real farm data, foster connection with people in agriculture, and grow the confidence to solve problems in their lives and community. The purpose to her work shines through in all she does, and her purpose is to empower students to be good people with an understanding of food and agriculture and its impact in their daily lives," said Katie Carpenter, president of NAITCO and director of New York Agriculture in the Classroom. "The passion that Monica holds for her work is evident in all she does, and that passion inspires curiosity and the use of critical thinking in her students. She gives her students the space to try new foods, skills, and challenges -and that makes her an exceptional teacher worthy of this award."

For her excellence in teaching through agriculture, Monica Chamberlain will receive an expense-paid professional development experience to the National Agriculture in the Classroom Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah, where she will be recognized onstage in front of an audience of over 600 of her peers. This opportunity will allow her to network with educators across the country and be inspired by new classroom resources and tools to teach through and about agriculture.

Past Winners