(TRENTON) – The Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) has announced that Kristina Guttadora, a horticulture teacher at Monmouth County Career Center in Freehold, is the 2020 ACTE Region I Teacher of the Year and was one of five finalists for the 2020 national honor.
The award recognizes 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.
“I love being in the classroom and playing a part in supporting students and assisting them in reaching their academic goals,” said Guttadora, who is the FFA Advisor at the Monmouth County Vocational School. “To be the Region I Teacher of the Year is a great honor and to be considered for the national award is very exciting. The support of administration and staff have provided me with the necessary tools for success.”
Guttadora received her BS in Plant Science at Rutgers University, and Masters in Agricultural Education from North Carolina State University.
She served as a high school agricultural educator and FFA advisor in Freehold Township for 10 years, while staying actively engaged in the National Association for Agricultural Educators, attending regional conferences, and being selected for the Teacher Turn the Key and Outstanding Young Teacher award.
From 2007-2009, she served as the New Jersey Agricultural Association of Educators president.
“Ms. Guttadora is a tremendous asset to our teaching staff here at the Monmouth County Career Center,” Principal Nathan Kraemer said. “She provides a wealth of experience and knowledge and those qualities, along with her enthusiasm, have created an inspirational learning atmosphere that puts our students in an excellent position to succeed and realize their potential.”
In 2011, Guttadora shifted her career direction to serve as the Executive Director of the New Jersey Agricultural Society, where she supervised the Farmers Against Hunger, Agricultural Leadership and Learning through Gardening programs.
During her time in this position, Guttadora connected FFA chapters to volunteer opportunities with the organization. This career change enabled Guttadora to broaden her understanding of the industry and make professional connections throughout the state.
She returned to teaching horticulture in 2017 at the Monmouth County Career Center, where she networks to strengthen career and technical education and provide greater employment to her students.
“Kristina is well-known and respected in the agricultural community in New Jersey,” New Jersey Department of Agriculture Secretary Douglas H. Fisher said. “She is very deserving to have her efforts recognized on the regional and national level.”
The Monmouth County Career Center’s Horticultural program allows students to receive hands-on experience pertaining to floriculture, landscaping, and turf management.
The school operates a working floral and garden shop open to the public where students sell crops and products grown in the greenhouse and created in class.
Customer orders are filled for a variety of special events and holidays and provide the students the opportunity to gain retail and agricultural business skills.
Technology is integral as students are taught golf course and landscape management techniques and receive live work experience on the school’s Par 3 golf hole and the 12 acres of property on site.
In both programs, the students learn plant and cut-flower identification, pest management, fertilizer applications, and cultural techniques.
The co-curricular organization FFA plays a major part of teaching students the skills they need to be successful in agriculture and other related careers.
This is the fourth consecutive year a New Jersey Ag Education teacher has been honored with an ACTE Region 1 award.
The previous three years Salem County Technical School’s Keely DiTizio, Woodstown High School’s Deanna Miller, and Newton High School’s Jenny Allen each were the Region 1 New Teacher of the Year.
The ACTE Excellence Awards recognize individuals who have made extraordinary contributions to CTE, programs that exemplify the highest standards and organizations that have conducted activities to promote and expand CTE programs.
For more information about the ACTE Excellence Awards, visit https://www.acteonline.org.