KAYENTA, Ariz. - Clyde McBride, an agriculture teacher and career and technical education (CTE) director for the Kayenta Unified School District, is the 2015 Association for Career and Technical Education Teacher of the Year.
The Teacher of the Year award recognizes the finest career and technical teachers at the secondary school level who have demonstrated innovation in the classroom, commitment to their students and dedication to the improvement of CTE in their institutions and communities.
In an area that suffers from high unemployment and poverty, many families who depend on healthy livestock lack easy access to veterinary care. That's one of the ways McBride's program helps the surrounding community around Monument Valley High School.
Collaborating with Second Chance of Flagstaff, about 200 students in the Agricultural Education program, provide low/no cost veterinary care for hundreds of miles around Kayenta.
Harry Martin, superintendent of the Kayenta Unified School District, said there are times when people will call for veterinary help in the middle of the night from far flung places on the Navajo reservation and McBride and his students respond.
"It is a really hands on program," Martin said. "He will call the kids and grab a veterinary medical bag and they will go out to the ranches around the district and help birth all kinds of animals, stitch up sheep from coyote or dog attacks and get all the animals back on the road to recovery. He's done that more times than he probably even admits to me."
McBride's classroom started out in the old woodshop room at the high school. He operated on animals on the old woodshop desks. But his dream was bigger. After years of lobbying for funding, in 2011 McBride successfully orchestrated the design and construction of a $2.4 million, 22,000 square foot agri-science center for excellence. His students have received honors from the Arizona Senate and have been invited by the National Department of Agriculture to participate in the Native Voices Conference and American Indian Symposium. TIME magazine wrote a feature on the program in 2012 and there is a chance they will be featured in a Natural Geographic Wild program in the future.
McBride said many of his mentors when he started teaching told him there was no way he could implement a successful program let alone win a national award for teaching because of where he taught.
"It's a big honor," McBride said. "And it was nice to be able to prove everybody wrong. But probably the nicest part of it is bringing that honor back and giving it to the kids and seeing their reaction and the pride they have in it."
McBride refers to himself as just the captain of the ship and the kids as the ones who take on the passion and motivation to be successful.
"When that animal comes in or we go out to that animal, it's their drive that wants to make sure that the animal is better than it was when we got there," he said.
Martin said the recognition brings a tremendous amount of pride in the students and gives them an answer for why they think they are in school. With success in sports, the girls volleyball team just won the AAA State Championship, and now success in academics, the message to students is clear.
"The kids know they can be successful in almost anything they want to do that we provide here at the school," Martin said. "Once they become successful here then they know they can be successful anywhere they want to be."
McBride also credits Martin for taking a chance on a CTE program as a first year superintendent when McBride was first starting to build the program.
"It was a big risk he took," McBride said.
Martin emphasized that it is impossible to be the Teacher of the Year without students.
McBride agreed and said that the award was all about the kids in his program.
"I tell the kids it's an honor to receive things on their behalf," he said. "They have truly been the inspiration to keep the program at the quality that it is and keep it improving every year."
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