Giving kids the tools to succeed: Sheridan School’s Mike Wetherbee named Montana Association of Agricultural Educators Administrator of the Year

There’s a new out building behind the Sheridan High School. It’s home to the school lawnmowers, track equipment and a grab bag of various other previously homeless tools.

“A lot of people don’t know that kids built this,” said Mike Wetherbee, Sheridan School’s superintendent, pointing to the new building.

It is projects like this that earned Wetherbee the Montana Association of Agricultural Educators Administrator of the year. After being selected the recipient of that award, Wetherbee was then eligible to be nominated for the Montana Association for Career and Technical Education Administrator of the year, which he was also awarded.

Nominated by his fellow staff members and school board representatives, Wetherbee said the award is more than just nice recognition for him – it’s recognition for the school.

“This shows the degree of quality at this school and the good things we are doing,” he said.

“Career driven skills are a big demand for kids,” added Rodney Braaten, who was part of the nominating committee for Wetherbee.

Braaten is the agricultural education teacher at Sheridan Schools and said having the ability to give kids hands-on exposure is something special for the school.

“(Awards) are good exposure for the school and kind of shows that we’re a step ahead of the game,” he said. “We’ve been doing neat things at this school since I’ve been here and you hear what’s going on with other schools and programs and we’re a little bit ahead of the curve.”

Aside from constructing new buildings for the school, students helped assemble and weld the new electronic billboard for the town, including using a plasma cutter to create Sheridan’s signature panther for the sign. Students also have access to a two-post car lift, a school farm and green house. With these tools, students can learn about the automotive trade or take a class in livestock management.

Support for students

Having grown up in Montana, Wetherbee was always involved in 4H. He raised sheep growing up but was never actively involved with programs like the National FFA Organization. With a little exposure to FFA in his previous school in Alaska, Wetherbee chalks most of his involvement up to Sheridan’s program.

“Our ag programs provide kids a chance to be involved in what drives our whole area and learn the ins-and-outs of the process,” he said. “But it’s more than just animals – it’s mechanics and sales and public speaking.”

For Wetherbee’s second award, he was selected over administrators from all over the state who represent not just ag programs, but business programs and consumer family sciences programs like Family, Career and Community leaders of America.

Though Sheridan School’s does not currently have a Business Professionals of America program, they do have an FCCLA program and thriving business department, which Wetherbee said is just as supportive and important in offering students more.

“Those programs are right in there supporting us and our students,” he said. “If a student has an idea or a project, we want to support that.”

And that’s what it really comes down to for Wetherbee, giving his students the tools to succeed after Sheridan.

“That’s why I’m where I’m at,” he said of his can-do attitude. “Let’s get a plan together and get after it. I’m not afraid to look out our resources and get a big picture idea for our kids.”

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