Phil Satolli, a first grade teacher at Lacey Spring Elementary School in Rockingham County, has been named Virginia Agriculture in the Classroom 2021 Teacher of the Year.
The award recognizes a Virginia educator for incorporating agriculture into his or her core curriculum.
Satolli integrates agricultural topics into his teaching, and his passion for gardening has led him to create real-life learning opportunities for his students. He established a school-wide composting project and raised-bed garden, which help teach his students about amending garden soil, cultivating their own food, and harvesting and cooking the foods they grow.
Satolli’s first graders help educate other students and staff on the benefits of composting, and the project has converted nearly 2 tons of the school cafeteria’s food waste into usable compost. Students in all grades have opportunities to work in the school garden, planting a variety of vegetables, herbs and flowers.
“Phil has won school grants from Virginia AITC in 2019 and again in 2020 to increase agriculture emphasis at his school,” said Tammy Maxey, Virginia AITC programs director and president of the National AITC Organization. “His promotion of gardening has had a tremendous impact on his school, especially under the restrictions schools have dealt with during COVID-19.”
As Virginia AITC Teacher of the Year, Satolli will receive a scholarship to the 2021 National AITC Conference in June, and a $500 cash award.
Agriculture in the Classroom is a national program that promotes greater understanding of agriculture through education. The Virginia Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom is a nonprofit organization that receives financial and administrative support from Virginia Farm Bureau Federation.
For more information visit AgInTheClass.org.