Gathered around a makeshift “fire” drawn on the whiteboard, 11th and 12th grade English language arts teacher Ryan Gilbert can be found playing the harp while sharing passages from “Beowulf” with his students. The infamous Honors English unit at Ohio Hi-Point Career Center is something students look forward to each year, as they dissect the symbolism in the epic poem while enjoying Gilbert’s music and indulging in food from that time. Gilbert engages students by highlighting different ELA skills in each class: On Mondays, students explore argumentative writing, Tuesdays are for general and creative writing practice, Wednesdays prompt short story workshops, while “TED Talk” Thursdays weave project presentations into curriculum. To wrap up the week, Gilbert uses students’ varying interests as framework for “20% Time,” or “Genius Hour” Fridays. Students choose what they study during these classes, researching and presenting on their respective subjects. Allowing students time to pursue their passions not only helps Gilbert increase engagement, but also serves as an opportunity for students to identify areas of interest for possible future career paths.
As the lead English instructor and new cybersecurity instructor, Gilbert works to expand College Credit Plus options at Ohio Hi-Point, creating and teaching his own creative writing elective after drawing from students’ interest in the subject. He utilizes structure from nonprofit NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) to encourage students to write novels, inspiring a love of writing among students so strong it yielded several published pieces and contest wins. Additionally, as an advisor for the National Technical Honor Society, Gilbert challenges students to push themselves academically and personally while celebrating their successes with family and community members.
Gilbert acts as a schoolwide leader, lending his knowledge and positivity to several groups such as the local professional development and honored educator committees. As a Resident Educator Program mentor, he provides guidance and leadership to colleagues and new teachers as well as continuously strengthens his own craft. Gilbert has presented at the Ohio Council of Teachers of English Language Arts and serves as the lead teacher for Ohio Hi-Point’s networking professional development at Sentinel Career Center. Gilbert also advises the drama club and helps build students’ public speaking and interview skills.
Gilbert is a graduate of the University of Toledo, earning a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Education in 2008. He obtained a Master of Arts from Ohio University in 2016.
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