Nineteen MSTA members were among the 35 teachers named 2019-20 Regional Teachers of the Year as part of the Missouri Teacher of the Year program through the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). Each Wednesday, a new profile will be shared online celebrating these outstanding educators. You can see profiles of all 19 MSTA members honored as Regional Teachers of the Year in the Fall 2019 issue of School & Community.

School Building: Owensville High School
School District: Gasconade County R-2
Grade/Subject taught: STEM III and IV (Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors), Physical Science (Freshmen), AP Physics (Juniors and seniors), AP Computer Science (9-12)
Years teaching: 17 years

What is one of your goals for this year?

One of my goals this year is to focus more on finding the students’ strengths and facilitating an environment that fosters their individual strengths and connecting them to other professionals that can inspire growth in what they’re passionate about.  

Describe yourself without using the word “teacher” or “educator.”

I am a classroom architect. I try my best to see what’s given, and who it’s given to – and create an environment for the students that I serve, to thrive.  

Why did you decide to become a teacher?

I took a part out of an essay that I wrote for Regional Teacher of the year, with a few minor changes: 

I met Lisa while attending graduate school at UMR (now Missouri S&T) and playing on a random coed softball team in the evenings.  I found out that she was a teacher, and the more I got to know her, the more I realized just how good she really was! Her love of her career and her students always showed. She was always preparing lessons and labs. You could tell that she wanted to be a great teacher! And that was inspiring to me! I soon realized that there was a place I could live out my love of science, share that love with others, see others enjoy it the way that I’ve come to enjoy it, and have it fulfill a part of my life. I decided that year that I would try to get a teaching job. And I was hired that summer, ready to teach science! Since then, I’ve grown to love teaching more every year, find the challenges of different classes to be exciting, and grow more passionate in finding ways to empower the students that I serve!  All while being married to the one that inspired me, Lisa.  

What is your teaching philosophy?

In my experience with education, I have learned that the process is most often more important than the product and that having meaningful experiences does more than any book or lecture has ever done for the students that I know and love. I’ve hiked the Denali Mountains in Alaska, led a group of students and unearthed dinosaur fossils in Montana, rafted the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon to explore geology, hiked Mt. Rainier and around Mt. St. Helens to see glaciers and volcanoes firsthand and walked the rainforests of Costa Rica with my students, and shared each of these experiences with my students in some way when I returned! My love for science and teaching affirms that I do have the greatest career anyone can ask for!

What career would you like to have if you weren’t a teacher?

I honestly can’t think of another career that I would rather have than teaching! But, if teaching students was against the law, then the career that I would like to have would be an astronaut or an actor that portrays some really cool superhero, or incredibly relatable villain.  

What’s your favorite book and why?

The book that I love the most is the Bible..  When I read the Bible, it humbles me at the same time that it inspires and gives me hope. That’s something that gives me peace that no other book will.  

What’s your favorite school lunch?

I really like the teriyaki chicken and rice that they serve at OHS!

What is something on your bucket list?

I would really like to ascend Mt. Everest, but since it’s incredibly overcrowded, chaotic, and I have young children, I would like to visit Antarctica and be a part of a research team there for a period of time. 

If you could see one band/performer, living or dead, in concert, who would it be?

The performer that is dead would be Elvis, for sure! The current living performer that I’d like to see would be Garth Brooks – and I’d really like to be suspended on wires as he has been in the past, and go over the crowd, or walk through a stage on fire!  

What superpower do you wish you had?

The superpower that I wish I had is easy. I want to fly. I want to fly so bad.  

If you could travel through time, where would you like to visit?

If I could travel through time, I would love to visit a few places, but I’ll try to narrow it down. I would really like to visit the Cretaceous period and walk amongst the dinosaurs. Okay, maybe not walk, but fly or be in some incredibly protective transportation. You know what I mean, right? Either that or travel ahead of time when we’ve learned to travel through time or teleport human beings.  

What do you do to relieve stress?

To relieve stress, I like to play with my daughter, Kendra or my son, Carter. I also really like to chill on a beach with my wife.  

What’s something about you that your students would be surprised to learn?

My students may be surprised that I performed in a critically acclaimed (maybe?) musical as a dancer at the McCollum Theater in Palm Springs, California when I was younger. They may also be surprised that I was in theater performances in college.