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April 4, 2013

Education heading in wrong direction

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Cooperstown Crier

---- — It is good to see that with teachers changing their curriculums to teach for the Common Core State Standards that there is still some hands-on learning going on locally. 

Cooperstown Central School life science teacher Amy Parr was recently recognized locally for her efforts to provide her students with the opportunity to make connections between the farm and their everyday lives. Parr was presented with the New York Agriculture in the Classroom 2013 Teacher of the Year Award at the middle/high school on March 22.

The Crier has reported on much of what Parr has done with her students and we feel she is a great choice for the honor. It came as no surprise she found the recognition to be “humbling.”

Parr is continually developing the Agricultural Expedition curriculum, creating a unique learning experience for her students, allowing them to explore the many aspects of the agricultural world around them. From the ecosystems surrounding them, locally and globally, to the food production systems in use, students learn to understand and appreciate the farmers who grow their food, both at home and abroad.

It is clear she is able to combine two of her deepest passions – teaching and agriculture. She said: “All of these years I thought I was just having fun doing the things that I love and doing the things I thought were important. I wanted to make science come to life for my students.”

The ideas included in Parr’s curriculum all stem from growing up on a farm and the sharing of her parents’ dairy herd test sheets. She said the sheets include all of the cows’ names, their milk production for the month, previous milk production and projections to what they should produce the next month, along with other data. 

Parr said her goal is to have her students look at the farm as a system and she feels her students learn better from hands-on experiences. 

Isn’t that the truth? Most students become more engaged when they can take real life experiences and relate them to learning. We are happy Parr is still able to bring creative ways of learning to her students while it seems the Common Core standards are stripping those opportunities away. It seems like school is becoming more and more about testing. It started right on the first day of the school year for CCS students and not even kindergartners were exempt.