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Award Notification:  Ryan Lafferty (WA '15)

Featured in this video:  Ryan Lafferty (WA '15)
Bellevue, WA   |    Jan 07, 2016
International School

Ryan Lafferty Wins Washington State Milken Educator Award for 2015-16

Ryan Lafferty achieves the seemingly impossible at International School in Bellevue, Washington: He makes physics fun and digestible. "He's the best teacher in the school, and that's why I chose the course," said one student after Lafferty's surprise Milken Educator Award notification. "I have a lot of trouble with physics — I think it's really hard — but I took the class because of Ryan."

Lafferty, working with the Bellevue School District, University of Washington and the George Lucas Educational Foundation, has developed a problem-based curriculum for AP Physics that he hopes will be implemented nationally. Students build Roman arches, projectile instruments such as slingshots and catapults, and a single-string instrument called a Diddley bow, which, with the help of the music department, they then learn to play.

"It's an overwhelming experience," Lafferty said of winning the Milken Award. "As teachers, we're not often recognized. And to be recognized is truly amazing."