ACGC’s Joel Betterton honored by U.S. Air Force Association as ‘Teacher of the Year’
Joel Betterton says when teaching math and science it helps to be a little crazy.
The ACGC science and math teacher was honored Friday afternoon in the high school auditorium in Guthrie Center by the Air Force Association Gen Charles Horner Chapter as the Teacher of the Year.
He is not only the winner for the chapter, but was also selected as the Iowa AFA Teacher of the Year.
Betterton, who has been top in his field in a 24-year teaching career, including 22 years at Adair-Casey and now in his first at ACGC, is honored for getting students excited about STEM subjects, a day to day challenge for teachers today.
He was nominated for the award by Linda Hemminger, a retired Major General from Adair, for his dedication to students and his belief that all students are able to accomplish their goals. Betterton taught all three of Hemminger and her husband Marty Fisher’s daughters at Adair-Casey. Their youngest, Lynae Fisher, a 2008 graduate of Adair-Casey, is active duty Air Force as Space and Missel Operations Officer in Cheyenne, Wyoming.
“When it came to STEM classes -- Science, Technology, Engineering and Math -- Mr. Joel Betterton was the first person that came to mind,” Hemminger said. “In our world today, STEM knowledge base is so important, whether you use it for agriculture, in medicine, nursing, aerospace, working with anything that involves science, technology or math, you have to have the background to do well.”
Hemminger said it’s truly an honor for the ACGC school to have Betterton as a teacher.
“He makes it fun and so you can understand it,” she said.
In a recommendation letter, ACGC superintendent Steve Smith highlighted how Betterton expects more from all of his students, not just those that are easy to teach.
“Through Mr. Betterton’s dedication, students in his classes achieve at levels higher than others would expect and they are set to take difficult technical challenges of the next generation,” Smith said.
Betterton, a 1984 graduate of Jefferson high school, has taught almost every STEM subject through the years. The class work he assigns keeps it fun for students to gather information and use their STEM knowledge to solve complex problems. His assignments often use things familiar to the student for classroom activities, such as calculating the speed of the wind generators near their homes. These assignments require students to take measurements from videos and internet images, and apply them to physics and mathematical equations, and solve problems.
“Growing the next generation of scientist, mathematicians and cyber specialists will be critical to our national security and Mr. Betterton has inspired his students to be excited about these subjects through innovative teaching techniques,” said Harley Thornton, chapter president.
Keith Morgan, vice president for Outreach for the Horner Chapter, said they were pleased to be able to present the award to Betterton in front of the district’s students.
“They can see what a valuable asset he is to their education,” Morgan said.
Betterton, who does not like to be in the spotlight, and told wife, Jen, a buisness teacher at ACGC, that he didn’t want a presentation, admitted it was an honor to be recognized.
“It’s really nice for them to think of me, it’s very special,” he said.
He thanked the student body in attendance at the ceremony for taking his classes.
“Everyday is a new challenge and you never really know what you’re going to get,” he said. “I enjoy the interaction with the kids. I learn from them every day.”
Jen Betterton, a 1991 graduate of Adair-Casey, said her husband has been involved in STEM subjects his entire life, learning a lot from his father, Ron Betterton, who had a longtime career as a engineer in Greene County.
“He thinks a lot of his dad,” Jen Betterton said. “His mom (Molly) said he always wanted to be a teacher. He was always encouraged to do his best.”
Joel and Jen Betterton live in Adair with their dauthers, Maggie and Emma Vogl.