KToY banquet trophy & program.
Tonight was the state awards banquet for Kansas Teacher of the Year in Wichita, Kansas. I was one of eight finalists statewide recognize for that achievement, the only one of whom was male, which has become a point of humor more than once already.

As a finalist for Kansas Teacher of the Year, I will now have the opportunity to join with the other finalists at numerous appearances to advocate for the teaching profession, as well as working with current and preservice educators, across the state of Kansas. I look forward to the opportunities to speak with legislators, administrators, and community members across the state as part of this program.

Having met and spoke with teachers who have already been part of this program in the past, I have had the chance to see what a substantial impact being a finalist for Teacher of the Year can have on one's teaching styles.

As part of the banquet tonight, time was given to introduce each of the finalist teachers and describe some of the characteristics that made them suitable for finalist for Kansas Teacher of the Year. After their introduction, time was given for each teacher to make some remarks about their role in education, their experiences in teaching, or what a typical day in their classroom might look like. Below, please find the comments I made in my time to expound upon my teaching experiences and what led me to choose a career in the teaching profession.

Gypsum Hills, south-central Kansas
   After having the opportunity to work as a teacher's aide as a junior in high school, I'd found a career path. Tiger Woods would have to hold things down on the PGA Tour himself. I was abandoning that pursuit to become a math teacher.

   I had the opportunity with a summer job to work alongside Mr. Ferguson and Vern, a pair of my teachers I learned under just a few years before.  We were setting roof joists on a shelter house in the Gypsum Hills of southern Kansas. As we worked, I had an opportunity to talk about my career path with Vern (Mr. Buell was far too formal a term for him to accept), my legendary and influential math teacher during my sophomore year. He didn't exactly share the secret of  life, but made a funny comment about Mr. Ferguson, the social studies teacher who was working on the roof with us. He said "Now, Max is a social studies teacher, so we have to talk a little slower with all our measurin' so he can keep up."

   With a few years teaching experience now under my belt, I'd like to try and paraphrase that comment: Teachers are all in this together. We can't just focus solely on how well a student can write a summary paper, or map out a chemical reaction, or solve an equation involving some really intimidating-looking fractions.

My alter-ego, Slope-R Mario.
   So now, in my classroom, we work to incorporate real-life experiences with students to make topics much more engaging and long-lasting than a bunch of numbers on a textbook page. It might involve creating a giant Jenga game made from 2 x 6's, or creating a Sierpinski triangle out of pennies in the school parking lot, or how we determined if students' backpacks were a tolerable weight by doctors' recommendations, or even result in my wearing overalls and a fake moustache to take on the persona of Super Mario so students get the topic of slope.

   Regardless of their topic, time, or trade, I strive to make learning relevant to my students, whatever their background or career path. Learning experiences among my students can read almost like a collection of inside jokes, where "you had to be there." With the mentality that "we have fun, but we get stuff done," students take with them a collection of experiences we shared together.

   I do have to admit, about a year ago when I had the chance to work on the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition house outside of Ottawa, Kansas, I was taken back to that day on the roof with Mr. Ferguson and Vern. I found myself working again on roofing joists, just down the wall from a pair of men who were working on the same task. When I heard them bickering about fractions and how to properly space some beams, I was ready to help them out. But like Vern said, I had to make sure to talk a little slower with all the measurin' so they could keep up."

Thank you.

I hope you look forward to hearing about  my adventures as a part of the Kansas Teacher of the Year Team as much as I look forward to sharing them. Stay tuned.


Betty Buell
11/18/2012 02:15:28 am

Even though there was a major mistake in the selection process last night, I enjoyed every minute of this amazing event! I was so proud of you and the outstanding teacher you have become. Your comments about Vernon meant so much & who knows, he may have been watching! Thanks again for the honor of being invited!

Marc Brownlee
12/3/2012 03:46:02 am

The Mario thing does not surprise me. I remember walking down a hallway in high school, and some guy jumps out in this super hero pose, looks both ways with a serious look, and bolts down the hallway. That same guy went to graduation with a putter, golf ball, and turf on his head.

I am some what of a nerd these days myself. I have been doing engineering as a hobby for some years now, and I finally had the time and push to start an engineering degree. Neither Vern or Mrs McCurdy could get me to care about basic algebra. Now my daily work out includes trigonometry and calculus to rearrange the trigonometric functions to fit my purposes. I am going to start following this blog, I have already soon a view points of interest.

8/21/2013 10:00:40 pm

Congratulations Scott, for being nominated for the prestigious Kansas Teacher of the Year Award. This is clearly a great recognition to your efforts to make education a remarkably interesting event for the students. Keep up the good work and keep inspiring your students!

9/2/2013 11:51:43 pm

I liked your blog and went ahead and created a weebly blog too!


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