Posted September 13, 2012
Kelly Ryan, has been honored with
the National Association for Biology Teachers
Outstanding Biology Teacher Award for New York State.
She will be recognized at the NABT Honors Luncheon in
“Mom, I hope I love my job one day as much
as you love yours.”
That simple sentence from Shaker High School
biology teacher Kelly Ryan’s daughter is one of the most special
memories that she took from winning the National Association for
Biology Teachers Outstanding Biology Teacher award for New York
Ryan was nominated last spring for this
prestigious award, of which only one person in the state can win.
But the veteran teacher of 25 years wasn’t sure she was going to go
for it at first.
“I was a little embarrassed,” Ryan said.
“Through many professional development sessions, I have met some
amazing teachers. There are so many great biology teachers out
With a little encouragement from her friends,
family and peers, Ryan decided to go ahead and submit her
application. She was notified over Labor Day weekend that she had
To be considered for this award, candidates must
have at least three years of teaching experience and must have
devoted a major portion of their life to teaching biology/life
science. Candidates are judged on their teaching ability and
experience, among other qualities.
"What I have always been most impressed with is
her ability to think outside the box and try new and different
things that benefit teaching and learning," SHS science department
supervisor Keith Bogert said. "I think of her as 'comfortable
outside her comfort zone,' and that makes her a very special
educator. We can all learn something from her approach to teaching
and I am exceptionally proud to work with her on a daily basis."
Ryan’s view on teaching, specifically biology is
a simple one: bring the subject to life for the students.
“One of my biggest pet peeves as a biology
teacher is when I hear someone refer to a biology course as merely a
list of vocabulary words to memorize,” she said. “I don’t ever want
a student to leave my course with that impression. Students should
always be engaged in the subject and they need to be given an
opportunity to explore the concepts they are learning. I want my
students to question things. I want them to take an interest and
find out why things work the way they do.”
Ryan has immersed herself in the subject of
biology over her 25 years in the teaching profession. She always
makes professional development one of her personal goal each year.
“I feel this is imperative in order to keep
abreast of the rapidly changing field of biology,” she said. “The
new ideas and information allow me to keep my lessons fresh and
Over the past few years, Ryan has started to
present at conferences in addition to just attending them. In 2010,
she became the Living Environment Subject Area Representative (SAR)
for the Eastern Section of thee Science Teachers Association of New
York State (STANYS). In this role, she presents at conferences both
locally and throughout the state, and contributes articles four
times a year for the STANYS newsletter.
“I enjoy writing those,” she said. “I use them
to communicate information about new mandates, alert my colleagues
to upcoming professional development opportunities and provide ideas
for lesson plans.”
When she’s done teaching, Ryan would like to
transition back to the college world and work closely with
student-teachers and teach method courses.
“I want to impart some knowledge to the next
generation of teachers,” she said. “I want them to enjoy this as
much as I do.”
Just like her daughter said.