Bryan Kett does his best to ignore the WGN-TV camera filming his class.
Courtesy David Beery
Bryan Kett in his science class at Maine East
Courtesy David Beery
Maine East science teacher Bryan Kett enjoyed such a "tremendous" experience as a high school student and received such constructive role-model guidance from his teachers that he assumed that was the norm.
Not so, Kett discovered when he started his freshman year at Augustana College and started making new friends, some of whom reported nothing like the kind of constructive relationships that he had witnessed at his high school.
That realization started the wheels turning, and Kett decided to major in education and strive to become the kind of teacher who had supported and inspired him.
So far, so good. National-Louis University and WGN-TV have named Bryan Kett "Teacher of the Month" for September. WGN-TV Channel 9 will televise a report on the honor on Wednesday's 9 p.m. newscast.
The third-year teacher was nominated by two Maine East students. One credits him with helping her get back on track academically after her mother's death; one says he was impressed by Kett's willingness to pitch in on a service-learning trip in which he was not even directly involved as an organizer or sponsor.
The nominators say Kett brings to the classroom a knack for creating a fun environment at the same time that he explains material well and sets high standards for students' learning, understanding and achievement.
"Enthusiasm's contagious," Kett observes. "The more I start yelling about rocks or stars or plants or whatever, that's going to catch on."
And while Bryan says the recognition is flattering, he also insists that some of his colleagues are more deserving. "There are some real rock stars (teachers) in this school and this department," he said. "I'm just this guy running around with test tubes."
Maine East Science Department Chairwoman Aida Awad and Principal Mike Pressler say Bryan's self-assessment is too modest.
"Bryan has an uncanny way of helping students understand the relevance of the content that they need to master," Aida said.
"Whether he's working with students in Earth Systems Science to develop their connection to the impact they can have on their own local environment or working with Biology students to help them choose the best species of tree to plant on campus, he's clear that the connections and relevance he can find in each problem are the components that will really help students make the learning their own.
Pressler added that Kett's ability to create a classroom atmosphere that is comfortable, focused and organized for all students is outstanding.
"I have seen him work with groups of students who, up until they took his class, had not had much success with science - consequently, they weren't too happy about being in the classroom - at least initially," Pressler added.
"The way he manages to engage each individual shows great respect for the student as a person - which establishes the relationship that allows Bryan to teach the content and concepts. It's a lot of fun to watch him work with the students."