Connections: Linking Talented Educators
Connections: Linking Talented Educators

Spotlight: Ryan Moore (CO '15)

March 11, 2016

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The military demands that its members be "firm, fair and consistent" — an approach that helps Ryan Moore (CO '15) work effectively with students, parents and coworkers. He received his Milken Educator Award at Liberty Point International School in Pueblo West on October 29, 2015.

Milken Family Foundation: How did you end up in education?

Ryan Moore: I had a recreation degree with a minor in biology, and I was boring my trip participants with all the natural science around me. One of the participants suggested that I should teach science...some other time. 

MFF: You were in the military and worked as a corrections officer in a prison before beginning your teaching career. What did you learn from those experiences that you carry with you into the classroom today?

Ryan: Working in the military and prison system helped me recognize the value in systematic processes. This has made my classroom a very functional place. Both institutions also demand that you are "firm, fair and consistent." That has helped me manage students, coworkers, and parents with very few problems.

MFF: Who was your own most memorable teacher?

Ryan: I recently attended the funeral of Mr. Arthur Benfield, my high school history teacher. I had visited him several times after high school with my new wife and, later, with my children. Sadly, I never realized what an impact he had on my teaching career. He loved his students regardless of their grades, race, home life, financial situation, or behavior. I want to be that teacher.

MFF: Tell us about your first year in the classroom.

Ryan: I have always taught with purpose. If I didn't see the practical application, how would my students? My first year was full of ridiculous activities that sometimes (but not always) drove home the point of the lesson. My mentor teacher Devon Burke was so skilled at sorting out which activities could be modified for future use and which should be scrapped altogether! The most surprising part of my first year teaching was seeing the need kids had to be loved and accepted. If I can keep doing that, I will stay in the classroom.

MFF: A student is thinking about a career in education. What do you say? 

Ryan: I tell them the truth right off the bat: great hours, lousy pay, but helping kids has changed my life. If they want to make a career out of helping children, they couldn't choose a better one.

MFF: What impact do you think your Milken Educator Award presentation had on students at your school?

Ryan: Students want to know what makes me different from the other teachers. It's funny, because sometimes I can tell them what I do differently, but most of the time I have to tell them that I was lucky enough to be recognized for my hard work. Several of my students have actually taken the time to look at what their teachers do for them. I feel this year's students are grateful to have us!

MFF: What's your favorite time of the school day?

Ryan: Third hour! By then I have worked out the kinks in my lessons or activities and my classes are the most productive. It's great when the students are learning and everything is moving smoothly. 

MFF: If someone gave you a million dollars for your school, what would you do with it?

Ryan: Technology or scholarship funds. I would either add two new computer labs or try to get a one-to-one technology program going. I would also love to set up a college scholarship fund to get kids (and our teachers) thinking about their educational future. 

MFF: When you retire, what do you want your former students and colleagues to say about you?

Ryan: That Mr. Moore loved them — no matter what.

MFF: If you hadn't chosen a career in education, what would you be doing right now? 

Ryan: I would be back in the military. I loved being a scout in the army. 

MFF: Finish this sentence: "I know I'm succeeding as an educator when..."

Ryan: ...when the kids "get it." If they ask the next questions before I get to them, I know they are interested and processing what I am teaching them.

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