IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact:
October 19, 2017 www.nj.gov/agriculture
PO Box 330
Trenton, New Jersey 08625-0330
P: (609) 633-2954
C: (609) 433-1785
(TRENTON) – The Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) has announced that Keely DiTizio, a Teacher of Agriculture at Salem County Career and Technical School in Woodstown, is the 2017 ACTE Region I New Teacher of the Year and one of five finalists for the 2018 national award to be announced December 6. The award recognizes new CTE teachers who have made significant contributions toward innovative and unique career and technical education programs and shown a professional commitment early in their careers.
“This is the biggest award I’ve ever been nominated for and it was an honor and humbling when I found out about it,” DiTizio said. “I’m thankful for the support from the administration, other teachers, staff and of course the great students we have now and ones from the past, too. To be one of five teachers in the country nominated for this is just amazing.”
As a former high school agriscience student and FFA chapter president, DiTizio was featured on ACTE’s website as a CTE success story in 2010 before becoming an agriscience educator at Salem County Vo-Tech, where she founded the school’s Academy of Agricultural Sciences and has worked for five years to revamp the program by implementing one of the first full CASE (Curriculum for Agricultural Sciences Education) pathways in the country, a pathway which prepares students for the science, business, and technology of agriculture.
“I am fortunate enough to observe her lessons and daily interaction with students and Mrs. DiTizio not only brings a wealth of content knowledge to the classroom but truly inspires a passion towards agriculture education for each of her students,” said Salem County Career and Technical High School Principal Jason Helder. “Our school provides an exemplary Academy of Agricultural Sciences driven by dynamic lessons and valuable structured learning experiences, supported through a strong and vibrant FFA chapter.
“The guiding force and primary reason this is available to the students of Salem County can be attributed to Mrs. DiTizio. She has created this program and designed and delivered an exceptional program of studies. We are so proud of her efforts and so appreciative that her talents are a part of our school community.”
In addition to her certifications to teach four different CASE courses, DiTizio participated in the National Agriscience Teacher Ambassador Academy (NATAA) and was selected as the 2015 New Jersey Advisor of the Year. She is the current New Jersey Association of Agricultural Educators’ Treasurer and serves on the state STAR (State Teach Ag Results) Team, where she helps plan and promote activities that inspire students to become agricultural educators.
“Keely’s knowledge, enthusiasm and dedication have transformed the agriscience program at the school,” New Jersey Department of Agriculture Secretary Douglas Fisher said. “That the students have responded to her so positively and that the FFA chapter is so vibrant, shows the how teachers can make a difference in the lives of young people.”
DiTizio has developed a reputation for her dynamic, student-directed lessons designed to lead students to draw their own conclusions. She ingrains project-based learning into her courses and through cross-curricular activities with other CTE classes. Following FFA’s model of connecting students with Supervised Agricultural Experiences (SAE), DiTizio has placed her students in work opportunities on farms, animal shelters, Rutgers University, and various facilities for the state’s Land Grant Institution.
DiTizio’s popular courses for agriscience have quadrupled the average number of freshmen recruited to the program over five years, and the FFA Chapter she advises was named the most improved chapter in the state. What has helped that growth is that DiTizio informs that FFA is not only for students who live on farms.
“You don’t have to live on a farm or be a farmer to be a part of FFA,” said Lindsey Bradway, who graduated from Salem County Vo-Tech last year. “There are many different parts to FFA.”
Another recent graduate was not surprised to hear of DiTizio’s award and national nomination.
“Mrs. DiTizio is truly deserving of this award because of her Herculean efforts toward the development of both her students and the program,” said former student and New Jersey State FFA Officer Hannah Mann.
Along with developing the CASE program at Salem Vo-Tech, DiTizio has led the development of two school gardens, facilitated the use of a new greenhouse and had a chicken coop built on the school grounds.
DiTizio will attend the ACTE Awards Banquet at the ACTE’s CareerTech VISION 2017 in Nashville, Tenn., where the winning teacher will be announced. The Awards Banquet is sponsored by Express Employment Professionals, the US Army, CareerSafe, Stratasys, and International Baccalaureate. For more information about the ACTE Excellence Awards, visit https://www.acteonline.org.
To learn more about the New Jersey Department of Agriculture, find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/NJDeptofAgriculture and www.facebook.com/JerseyFreshOfficial or Twitter @NJDA1 and @JerseyFreshNJDA.