Teacher Feature – Joanie Novak


School:  Littlejohn Elementary School, DeKalb

Grade:  2nd

Subjects:  All

Number of years teaching:  18

Farm Bureau/Ag Literacy connection:  This is my 9th year as the Agricultural Literacy Ambassador for my school. I have participated in Ag in the Classroom events while teaching 4th, 5th, and now 2nd grade, and I participate in as many of the professional development opportunities provided through the DeKalb County Farm Bureau as possible.

What is your favorite unit to teach?  My favorite ag unit to teach is about seeds and plants and tying it in with the role that animals play in the life cycle of a plant. I enjoy working with students as they experiment with different types of seeds, soil, and environmental conditions to get their plants to grow and thrive.

What do you enjoy most about teaching?  I enjoy building positive relationships with students and their families. It is always an amazing feeling when former students come back to visit. To quote Maya Angelou, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Why is it important for students to learn about food and farming?  There is a huge disconnect with students with the idea of farm to table. Many students think that their food just comes from the store. Learning about the importance of farming, exploring seeds, and helping with the community garden can improve students overall health and well-being.  

Share one memorable teaching story.  When I taught 5th grade, I used to have a lot of classroom pets that the students would help care for. I had a student that was very shy and a struggling reader. She gained enough confidence reading to the pet turtle and the guinea pigs that she made huge amounts of progress. By the end of the year she wanted to read a book out loud to our 2nd grade buddies!


Hometown:  Creston

Family:  Husband, Michael and two children, Nicholas and Vivian, as well as two Alaskan Malamutes

College/Degree(s):  Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from Lewis University; Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Lewis University; endorsements in ESL, Science, Social Studies, and Language Arts

What did you want to be when you grew up?  I always knew that I wanted to be a teacher!


Quote:  “With the right words, you can change the world.” E.B. White from Charlotte’s Web

Hobby:  Reading

Books:  “Harry Potter” series

Sports team:  Green Bay Packers

Movie:  “Star Wars”

Travel destination:  Visiting all 50 states, only 10 more to go!