Orion's Solomonson, finalist for national award

Mindy Carls
Jay Solomonson, a native of Orion, is a finalist for the ACTE National Teacher Educator of the Year Award.

Jay Solomonson, a 1998 graduate of Orion High School, is a national finalist for the ACTE Teacher Educator of the Year Award for 2023.

The Illinois Association for Career and Technical Education made Solomonson its state winner in February, and Region 3 of the ACTE chose him its Teacher Educator of the Year in June during its conference in Des Moines.

Solomonson was active in Orion FFA and agricultural education classes at OHS. After obtaining a degree in agricultural teacher education from Western Illinois University, he returned to OHS in 2002 to begin 17 years in the classroom. He also served as FFA advisor.

He received a master’s degree in agricultural teacher education from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, in 2005.

Solomonson added more duties at OHS in 2013, when he became the director of career and technical education and the head of the cooperative education program.

He began working toward a Ph.D. in agricultural education at Iowa State University in 2015. To fulfill a degree requirement to spend a year teaching college classes, Solomonson asked the Orion district to release him from his classes for calendar year 2017. The board agreed.

Solomonson returned to OHS in 2018. He left in July 2019 to serve a year as a program advisor in the FCAE program, Facilitating Coordination in Agricultural Education. Based in Moline, Solomonson worked with ag teachers in northwest Illinois to improve their work with students in the classroom and in FFA.

He took a step up in 2020, becoming an assistant professor at Illinois State University. Solomonson has published six journal articles, 24 research papers, abstracts or posters, and seven magazine articles.

His strengths include teaching, research, youth development, coaching, program evaluation and classroom management.

Solomonson has certifications from the Curriculum for Agricultural Science Education (CASE) in ag business; ag, food and natural resources, and natural resources and ecology.

The National FFA Organization presented Solomonson with an honorary American FFA degree in November 2019, and a year later Illinois Association FFA presented him with the Section 3 honorary degree.

The National Association of Agricultural Educators and Illinois Association of Vocational Agriculture Teachers named Solomonson the state winner four times while he taught at OHS — Agriscience Teacher of the Year, 2014 and 2016; Ideas Unlimited, 2017, and Outstanding Agricultural Educator, 2019.

Solomonson was the IAVAT Excellence in Teaching state winner in 2011, the IAVAT Outstanding Young Member winner in 2007 and the NAAE Teachers Turn the Key Award winner in 2005.

He made the Quad Cities Leaders Under 40 list in 2012 and the Quad Cities Master Teacher Award in 2013.

Jay and his wife Sheryl received the Illinois Farm Bureau’s Young Leaders Excellence in Agriculture Award.

Solomonson has served as state president of IAVAT.