2016 Outstanding Teacher of America
U.S. History, Government and Economics Independence High School Eastside Union High School District San Jose . California
Ryan grew up in the Mountain town of Murphy, California, located in the foothills of the Sierras. He was an active athlete in high school, and studied only so he could play sports. Following his high school graduation, Ryan moved to Santa Cruz, California to attend Carbrillo Junior College to play baseball. In college, he was forced to select a major and picked history. While in junior college, Ryan worked as a youth director at a local church and found he had a passion for working and spending time with kids. He discovered he had a specific fondness for the kids who were a bit more like him and who were frequently referred to as â€œtrouble makers.â€ He took his interest in helping these types of students to San Jose State University where he decided to become a teacher and found his passion for teaching. He found he was driven to learn how best to inspire and motivate students who other teachers did not believe could excel. He found a love of history and his passion translated to his students.
Ryan did his student teaching at Independence High School in San Jose, California and was immediately hired in 2000 and has been there ever since, where he teaches college prep US History, Government and Economics. Ryan has been repeatedly asked to teach the AP US History, Government and Economics classes, but prefers to stay with his students whom he believes need the best teachers in order to succeed.
Since Independence High School reached a low point at one time because of frequent gang activity and extensive bullying, Ryan took it upon himself to help boost student morale on campus and he started the â€œActs of Random Kindness Club.â€ This club has grown to over 200 active members who will select teachers and students who might be struggling and will make signs of appreciation that they place all over campus or in classrooms. They fill jars with notes of encouragement and affirmation to pass out to random students and they collect money to backpacks, thermoses or Starbucks cards to spread out to students in need.
Ryan plays a significant role in the Students Rising Above club, made up mostly of Hispanic students who mentor elementary and middle school students to help ease the transition into the upper grades and encourage academic development.
To help support the athletic teams at Independence High School, Ryan started â€œThe Colonists,â€ which is a group of over 200 students who attend games and events to cheer on their classmates. He is also the advisor of the Ukulele Club where he teaches the Ukulele and kids can hang out and play music and was selected to lead professional development activities for the staff at Independence High School.