BLACK RIVER FALLS, Wis. -- A Black River FAlls teacher receives a surprise honor from the state Friday.

Bradley Markhardt, an agriculture education teacher at Black River Falls High School, was named Wisconsin’s High School Teacher of the Year for the 2011-12 school year in a surprise ceremony Friday morning.
State Superintendent Tony Evers made the announcement during an all-school assembly. As part of the Teacher of the Year honor, Markhardt will receive $3,000 from the Herb Kohl Educational Foundation.

“I view my role in education as a facilitator,” Markhardt said in his application materials. “I want to help each student grow in academic achievement and to empower students to think critically, solve problems, make quality decisions, and cooperate with others. This will enable them to become lifelong learners and active citizens.”
Markhardt uses agriculture education’s three circle model of classroom instruction: rigor, relevance, and relationships. He establishes rigor in the classroom by creating lessons for a diversity of learners, provides relevance through Supervised Agriculture Experiences, and creates relationships through the FFA organization. He says that the work experience and participation in FFA provide his students with motivational opportunities to expand classroom learning into relationships and connections to life.
Markhardt is confident about the future of education. “While there are definitely challenges, I do see many positive things happening in education today. I see students getting involved, motivated to excel, excited by the opportunities we present to them,” he said. Markhardt also noted that parents and the community support education through the home, by serving as guest speakers and field trip chaperones, and by providing supplies, equipment and expertise for classroom activities.

Markhardt is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and earned his master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.