Nathan Yaussy’s students learn about science in an atmosphere replete with fun, fascination and wonder. At Fairport Harding Early College High School in Fairport Harbor, Yaussy inspires students to protect the planet and understand the scientific underpinnings of our world. For the final project in Yaussy’s anatomy class, students used their knowledge of forensics to plan a murder and leave clues for the following year’s class to solve. Yaussy uses silly noises to explain the way sound waves travel, makes rock candy to teach about crystallization, and uses a lifelike puppet to keep students engaged in discussions. His students build boats out of trash and launch them into Lake Erie to increase awareness of pollution. In Yaussy’s science fiction elective, students create comic books inspired by “The Martian” and share them with elementary students in the district. So many students wanted to take Yaussy’s classes that the school rearranged the schedule to eliminate conflicts with rehearsals for the school’s robust marching band. Lively and entertaining, Yaussy teaches his students to conduct scientific research, work as a team, present their findings and stand up for their beliefs.
To give all students in the community the opportunity to engage with science, Yaussy secured funding to offer 4-week summer classes. In aquatic ecology, students visited parks, explored streams, caught bugs and animals, and learned to sample and test water quality. The zoology summer class included visits to zoos in Columbus and Akron, a Lake Erie fish hatchery and Fairport Beach. Yaussy invited Lake Metroparks educators to bring live animals to the class, and students learned about the harmful effects of trash on wild animals during a community cleanup day. Yaussy started the school’s recycling and science clubs, coordinates the science fair, and took a group to March for Science Cleveland. As founder and leader of the “Know It All” academic challenge team, Yaussy celebrates each right answer and welcomes every student to participate.
Yaussy sees every student question as a learning opportunity. He got the whole school buzzing about cicadas one day when he spotted the insects’ shells in a tree near the school bus drop-off. Yaussy’s love of teaching and learning is contagious: He is a compassionate educator who meets students where they are, treats all with respect and connects particularly well with students who are neither athletes nor social butterflies. Students consistently name Yaussy as an educator who has impacted their lives.
Yaussy earned a bachelor’s in biology from Hiram College in 2008. In 2013, he received a master’s in ecology from Kent State University, and a master’s in education from John Carroll University.
Press release: Happy #NationalSTEMDay! Fairport Harbor Science Teacher Nathan Yaussy First in District to Receive $25,000 Milken Educator Award
"They [high schoolers] are in the process of learning how they fit in the world. Today’s students are more socially aware and less..." (read more)