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Foundation cites teacher, program for excellence
Darryl Holland, agriculture teacher at Magna Vista High School, is shown with a banner representing the 2013 Career and Technical Education Exemplary Standards Award the school’s agriculture program recently was awarded. Holland was cited by the Virginia Career Education Foundation for his ‘extraordinary care and concern for the success of every student.” (Bulletin photo by Mike Wray)
Monday, June 24, 2013
By PAUL COLLINS - Bulletin Staff Writer
Darryl Holland, an agriculture teacher at Magna Vista High School, has long been held in high esteem by his peers and his students.
His hands-on style of teaching has paid off, recently earning the agriculture program the 2013 Governor’s CTE Exemplary Standards Award. The program was the only one in Virginia to receive the award, according to the Virginia Career Education Foundation, which sponsored the award.
The award recognizes programs which meet rigorous criteria for excellence; alignment with professional, industry and academic standards; implementation of best practices; relevance to community, industry and individual needs; and accountability for student outcomes, according to a news release.
The VCEF described Holland as “the consummate teacher, displaying extraordinary care and concern for the success of every student and instilling in them a high level of passion and professionalism.” And, “while we recognize the program, we know there would never be an exemplary program without an exemplary teacher,” the VCEF’s website stated.
Principal Gracie Agnew seconds that description.
“His program embodies those twenty-first century skills (including creative and critical thinking, collaboration and communication) required for success,” Agnew said, and noted that she is “proud to have” Holland at the helm of Magna Vista’s agriculture program.
“I love to go down there (to see him teach),” Agnew said. “When you go down there, you can’t leave. You have to stay awhile. ... Students love his program,” and there’s usually a waiting list to get in his classes.
Agnew said Holland’s discussion about chickens that lay colored eggs was so exciting that she ordered some and raised them at home.
Former students, like Henry County Sheriff’s Deputy Tim Robertson, also remember Holland and his hands-on teaching methods.
Holland “is the most awesome teacher or friend you could ever have,” Robertson said. “I loved the competitions, learning and outdoor stuff.” The program “is amazing.”
Robertson, who now is the school resource officer at Fieldale-Collinsville Middle School, said “I still farm,” and he encouraged his daughter to take agriculture at Magna Vista.
Even though she grew up on a farm and was around livestock, Robertson said she was skeptical at first, but “now she is involved in it, that’s all she breathes. She is very active.”
Holland smiles as if he knows that students like Robertson’s daughter are the future of agriculture.
At 55, Holland has not strayed far from his roots.
He grew up on a tobacco and beef cattle farm in Horsepasture and has spent 32 years teaching in Laurel Park and Magna Vista high schools. He still is close to his family.
Having his family by his side, Holland said, was one of the best parts of winning the Governor’s Award.
“Having my parents — Clyde and Shirley Holland, and my wife, Lillian Holland” in the audience when he was presented with the 2013 Governor’s CTE Exemplary Standards Award, was “one of the highlights” of winning the award.
He describes one of his “proudest moments was having my nephew, Logan Collins, transfer to Magna Vista from another schools district.” Collins now is enrolled at Ferrum College where he studies agriculture.
It also is rewarding for Holland to know that his former students are being successful, and for parents to tell him the impact he had, he said, and noted that he has worked with many good students and good families.
“I’ve had (former students) say casually, ‘I stayed in school because you made it fun and you made it interesting,” Holland said.
He attributes that to his hands-on style of teaching, Holland said, and added a current trend in education is project-based learning.
But, like the song “I Was Country When Country Wasn’t Cool,” Holland said “I was project-based learning when project-based learning wasn’t cool.”
His track record speaks for itself.
During his career in county schools, the agriculture program’s enrollment has almost doubled, less emphasis has been placed on shop classes, and in the last several years classes have been added in forestry and wildlife, equine science (horses), veterinary science and small animal care, Holland said.
For about the last five years, Holland’s students have earned pesticide private applicator licenses, hunter safety certificates which enabled them to get hunting permits. They also have done internships at Kings Mountain Animal Clinic and job shadowing for the Virginia Department of Forestry.
Other highlights include being a member of a delegation of county educators to go to Russia for eight days in 1997; receiving a Fulbright Scholarship to do a five-week educational exchange to Russia in 1998; and in 1999, a science teacher from Japan came to county, staying at Holland’s home and his supervisor, Deborah Barker’s home.
Holland also has served as president of the Virginia Association of Agricultural Educators, was involved in curriculum writing for veterinary science and natural resources and forestry for some Virginia high schools, helped with 4H groups, and has been involved in a number of horse shows in the community.
In the spring of 2013, Magna Vista’s agriculture program started a dual enrollment program with Patrick Henry Community College.
Humble and unassuming, Holland expressed gratitude to Barker, who now teaches horticulture at Magna Vista, the school division and administrators, parents, the community, and Tiffany Anderson, who teaches agriculture and horticulture at Magna Vista.
The $5,000 award from the Dominion Foundation will be used for Magna Vista FFA activities, he said.