• Sun. Apr 21st, 2024

High School Teacher in Park City Awarded Utah’s Science Teacher of the Year

BySamantha Johnson

Mar 14, 2024
High School Teacher in Park City Awarded Utah’s Science Teacher of the Year

The Utah Geological Association presents the Earth Science Teacher of the Year award annually to a K-12 educator. This year, Ben Ray, an earth science teacher at Park City High School, received the award along with a $1,500 prize. Ray has been teaching in Park City for 16 years.

Matthew Affolter, a previous recipient of the award in 2014, now serves on the Earth Science Teacher of the Year award committee. He noted that this year’s selection process was unique as a student nominated their teacher for the award for the first time ever. Generally, teachers must apply for the award themselves and provide letters of recommendation and a lesson plan. However, a former student of Ray from 15 years ago submitted an application on his behalf, leading to his recognition.

Ray expressed his gratitude for the award, stating that he was “incredibly flattered and humbled.” He also mentioned how validating it was to have a former student affirm that he was making a positive impact as an educator. Part of the reason Ray was chosen for the award is his teaching philosophy, which focuses on engaging students in a meaningful way that establishes a real connection to the subject matter.

One aspect of Ray’s teaching that students especially enjoy is his use of popular media to educate them about the Earth. For example, he compares the movie “Dune” to current Earth issues, illustrating conflicts over limited resources. The UGA highlighted this innovative approach as a reason for Ray’s recognition. K-12 earth science teachers will have the opportunity to apply for the 2025 award later this year.

By Samantha Johnson

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