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Mount Washington School social studies teacher named City Schools’ 2015 Teacher of the Year

4/24/2015, 3 a.m.
Ryan Kaiser of The Mount Washington School is Baltimore City Public Schools’ 2015 Teacher of the Year. In a surprise ...
Ryan Kaiser of The Mount Washington School is Baltimore City Public Schools’ 2015 Teacher of the Year.

— Ryan Kaiser of The Mount Washington School is Baltimore City Public Schools’ 2015 Teacher of the Year. In a surprise visit, Baltimore City Public Schools CEO Gregory E. Thornton presented the award to Kaiser on Thursday, April 15, 2015.

Kaiser, a sixth and seventh grade social studies teacher, has taught for more than 16 years, including 10 years in Baltimore. He is also the school’s coach for the Baltimore Urban Debate League, a mentor teacher, and a teacher member of the school’s Parent Teacher Organization. He writes a weekly blog for parents to keep them informed of classroom assignments, events, and projects. Outside the classroom, Mr. Kaiser writes middle school honors curriculum for City Schools, serves as the communications coordinator for the Maryland Council for Social Studies, and writes curriculum and lesson plans for teachers nationwide for the White House Visitor’s Center.

Mr. Kaiser also founded a summer camp in 2007 that takes students on field trips along the East Coast from New York City to Assateague Island. Throughout the year, he raises money to help students attend the camp.

Nominated by three of his students’ parents, Mr. Kaiser is a wellknown and popular member of the whole school community. His pursuit of discovering the learning style of each of his students is a challenge he gladly accepts.

One parent noted, “Mr. Kaiser was persistent and continuously challenged my son, letting him know how proud he was when he achieved.”

In his classroom, students build websites, create documentaries and craft brochures on topics that interest them to keep them engaged and motivated to learn.

“Ryan Kaiser exemplifies what effective teaching looks like,” said Dr. Thornton. “By connecting classroom learning to real-world experiences, he makes learning fun, engaging, and memorable for his students. And that kind of learning pays off in student achievement and success.”

Born into a family of teachers, Kaiser was immersed in the benefits and power

of education. His postgraduate studies in outdoor experiential learning at the University of Colorado showed him the power of connecting school-based education to the world outside the classroom, where students can build on what they have learned by visiting sites that might include parks, businesses, or museums.

“Without those important connections, social studies becomes meaningless facts and statistics in textbooks,” Kaiser explains. He now teaches other educators on this approach. In 2013, he was awarded the first-ever Baltimore National Heritage Area’s Educational Partner of the Year award for his fun and engaging approach to cross-curricular work.

The Mount Washington School principal, Ashley Cook said, “Mr. Kaiser dedicates his time and resources to support more than 200 middle school students and has truly operationalized our mission to create caring global citizens that provide service to their community and beyond.”

City Schools selects the “Teacher of the Year” through a rigorous and competitive process. Ryan Kaiser was selected by the award committee after extensive review of applications, essays and recommendations, followed by interviews and classroom observations of the finalist candidates. As an additional method of screening candidates, Dr. Thornton conducted personal interviews with the finalists.

“My decision was a really difficult one,” said Dr. Thornton. “The finalists were all exceptional, and they made me proud of the high-quality teachers we have here in Baltimore. They are the key to our students’ success.”

As City Schools’ Teacher of the Year, Kaiser is recognized not only by the district but by numerous Baltimore organizations and businesses that have contributed to the award. These include Daly Computer (computer), Microsoft (Office 365), Hyatt Regency, National Aquarium in Baltimore, and the Baltimore Orioles (donating tickets for the Teacher of the Year and all finalists at an upcoming game; Mr. Kaiser will throw out the first pitch at the annual City Schools’ Night).

Additionally, Kaiser and the two finalists will be recognized by Canton Car Wash; City Schools (Smart/Promethean board tablets for their classroom); and the Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke Endowment Fund at the Fund for Educational Excellence with a cash award and classroom supplies.

Ryan Kaiser now advances to the 2015-16 Maryland State Teacher of the Year competition, whose winner goes on to represent the state at the national level.

For more information about the Teacher of the Year award, Ryan Kaiser and the finalists, visit www.baltimorecityschools.org/teacheroftheyear.