Teacher: Miss Brenda Woker
School: Jefferson Elementary School, DeKalb
Grade: 4th Grade
Number of years teaching: 21 years at Jefferson Elementary
Farm Bureau/Ag Literacy connection: I use Ag Literacy materials in my classroom and take my students on farm field trips. I have also participated in the following: Ag Literacy Committee, 18 years; Ag Literacy Committee chair, 4 years; Illinois Ag in the Classroom Teacher of the Year, 2007 finalist and 2008 runner-up; White-Reinhardt Scholarship Recipient, 2008; Ag Literacy Ambassador, 5 years; Summer Ag Institute participant, 5 years.
What do you enjoy most about teaching? I enjoy blending learning with fun, which I believe helps the students more fully engage in the learning process.
What is something unique that you do in your classroom? I recently integrated flexible seating into my classroom, and I find opportunities for students to teach each other. I work to focus on the positive attributes and behaviors of my students, which often is contagious and encourages their peers to strive for success as well.
Why is it important for students to learn about food and farming? All students eat, and food is produced by farmers. There are virtually unlimited food choices, and students/families need to be able to make educated and healthy choices for themselves.
Share one memorable teaching story. I am humbled when former students return to visit, and they share their gratitude for the teaching and learning they received in my classroom. I am especially prideful when college graduates return to thank me for my mentorship, guidance, and care in their educational journey (from years prior).
Hometown: Pearl City, IL
Family: I grew up in a family of 5 on our dairy and crop farm.
College/Degree(s): NIU Bachelor’s, Elementary Education; NIU Master’s,
Special Education, with emphasis as a Learning Behavior Specialist
What did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was 12, I decided that I wanted to be a teacher. I never changed my mind. My passion for this career continues.
Quote: “Choose to make today a good day.”
Hobbies: I love spending time with my nieces, demonstrating creativity through scrapbooking, exploring nature, going on walks, and collecting pencils. I started collecting when I was 12, and I have thousands of unique, unused pencils from all over the world.
Children’s Book: “Green Eggs and Ham” by Dr. Seuss
Sports Teams: Chicago Cubs and DeKalb Barbs
Movie: “Cast Away”
Travel: Washington, D.C.; Orlando, FL; Nashville, TN; Grand Canyon