Never in a million years did he see his future playing out as it has, yet this year’s E. J. Shaheen recipient, Reid Leaverton, wouldn’t want it any other way because he clearly sees that teaching is his calling. Leaverton teaches classes and oversees the new agricultural equipment technology program at the college.
Born and raised in San Diego, California, Reid played both football and baseball in high school, and he was required to take agricultural courses in preparation for the transfer. So, it was actually back in high school that agriculture peaked his interest and there he ended up serving as president of the FFA Chapter.
Leaverton attended Reedley College where he studied mechanized agriculture and worked a couple different a positions with Caterpillar dealers in Southern California after graduation.
“My wife, Shalico, was from Buchanan, Michigan,” said Reid. “We knew we wanted to move out of California and find a different and more wholesome environment in which to raise our kids. We actually came out here for a family wedding in 2013. I had already applied for a position at Fillmore Equipment in LaGrange (now Greenmark), and was offered the position while on vacation – this was all sort of a ‘happy accident.’”
The start date was two weeks later, and the couple decided to go for it – they packed up their son, Ryker, and moved to Michigan two weeks after the wedding. “My wife was nine months pregnant with our daughter, Reis, when we moved,” said Leaverton.
And how did he end up at Glen Oaks? “I actually applied for a different position at the college, and at the time,” he said. “There was a plan in place to try to and start an Agricultural Equipment Technology program. So that’s when my resume and background caught the attention of the administration and the rest is history.”
Leaverton was hired in 2017, and in his two short years at the college, he worked on developing the program, obtained equipment, promoted and attracted students to the program and reached out to businesses in the community for support and partnerships. He even started an Agricultural club where he serves as the advisor.
Last year, Leaverton worked with the farmers who were nearing the end of the lease in farming the campus grounds – and he formed a plan for Glen Oaks students in agricultural programs to gain hand-on experience by doing the farming. Glen Oaks is the only community college in Michigan to have an actual working farm.
More recently, he is having his students rebuild a couple of tractors and an engine from area farmers.
Leaverton was very surprised when he learned of receiving the prestigious E. J. Shaheen award. His students say “he goes above and beyond to ensure his students understand and learn the content. He is always willing to put the time in to help them.”
In addition, he is said to be extremely knowledgeable on the subject matter and very effective in relaying the material to his students. His enthusiasm helps motivate all students to do well – by encouraging them to use their skills and troubleshooting ability to help solve problems.
“I really enjoy the ability to communicate with the students,” said Leaverton of his teaching style. “I get straight to the point and ask a lot of questions, because I want to make sure they understand the material.”
Plans for the future—“We want to continue community outreach and diversify the campus farm to provide exposure to different crops to the students,” said Leaverton, “and we’re even talking about creating a pumpkin patch this year.”
E. J. Shaheen Chair for Teaching Excellence
The E. J. Shaheen Fund, is maintained through the Glen Oaks Community College Foundation. The Teaching and Excellence Award was initiated in 1984 with a generous donation from E. J. Shaheen, one of the original Glen Oaks Board members. Shaheen, a college professor, lawyer and business owner, placed a high value on education and spent much of his later life in promoting high quality education and education institutions, including Glen Oaks.