Teacher of the Year Mark Walker, center, is flanked by RCSS superintendent Stephen Gainey, left, and Randleman principal Corey Phillips at last week’s banquet. (Photo courtesy of RCSS)
RCSS honors Walker with annual award
RANDLEMAN – Once Mark Walker became involved with agricultural education, he sensed that would be his best avenue to make a difference at Randleman High School.
He stuck with it and he was rewarded for his decades in that capacity as the Teacher of the Year for the Randolph County School System.
“I hope I can be more of a voice and do more to promote it,” Walker said. “Kids today need that career technical education and the world needs it.”
Walker, 50, is in his 26th year at Randleman, beginning with one year as a physical education teacher.
“Basically, my entire career has been here,” Walker said. “I kind of came into it a little differently. I went back to school to North Carolina A&T and got the ag education degree. At that point, I had to go and pick up the agricultural education course that allowed me to continue. I was truly blessed with the timing of things.”
Walker, who grew up on the family farm in the Grays Chapel community, graduated in 1991 from Eastern Randolph before going on to obtain an undergraduate degree from Appalachian State.
“My intention way back was to go into teaching,” he said. “Once I got to Randleman, I saw the ag education here and then I knew this was the place.”
Randleman has what he calls a land lab with greenhouses and a barn facility with a few animals. There’s also a thriving Future Farmers of America chapter.
“It’s more practical, more hands-on,” he said. “You’ve got the classroom part. You’ve also got the FFA part. That has been a tremendous asset to the student success that we’ve experienced. That program is so engaging.”
The FFA program at Randleman typically has 60-80 participants, Walker said. The agricultural classes have up to 160 enrolled.
“We have some wonderful opportunities in-house,” he said. “I think when success really started happening in the FFA, that was a start that got a lot of kids fired up. The more accolades students achieved, the more students want to be a part of it.”
Walker was an assistant coach with the basketball and baseball teams near the beginning of his time at the school. He said directing the FFA program has filled the coaching inklings. Under Walker, 19 groups from Randleman have participated in national FFA competitions.
“That has been the bulk of my coaching, training them,” he said.
Walker praised the support from the school board and county administrators that has been directed toward agricultural education.
“I stand on career technical education,” he said. “I’m extremely proud to represent Randleman High School. I hope I’ve been able to provide a positive influence on a lot of youth.”
The other finalists at last week’s RCSS Teacher of the Year banquet at Pinewood Country Club in Asheboro were assistant principal Amy Bouser of Ramseur Elementary School, kindergarten teacher Kasey Peters of Coleridge Elementary School, kindergarten teach Lynn Stewart of Level Cross Elementary School and kindergarten teacher Kaitlyn Thompson of Trindale Elementary School.