A prize-winning science teacher at Spring Woods High School has been named a recipient of the Kinder Excellence in Teaching Award, which includes a $25,000 cash prize.
Ryan Beeler has taught environmental systems and Advanced Placement (AP) environmental science for seven years at Spring Woods High. He learned of his latest top award during a surprise dinner gathering on Aug. 16 at El Gallo Restaurant, a popular eatery located on Gessner Road across from the high school.
An initially stunned Beeler was cheered on by his former students and family members, filmed by a team of Kinder-based videographers, and issued a poster-size presentation check printed with his prize award amount. He is the third Teach for America program graduate who chose to work in Spring Branch ISD to have received the Kinder Excellence in Teaching Award in recent years.
“I am honored to receive the Kinder Excellence in Teaching Award this year,” Beeler later said of his new recognition. “It is a dream come true for me and my family. I especially loved seeing some of my former [high school] students who came out to surprise me at El Gallo on Friday. It meant the world to me that they were there because, ultimately, teaching is all about the students. They make everything worthwhile.”
A past district Teacher of the Year finalist, Beeler was named a regional finalist in the H-E-B Excellence in Education Awards competition during the 2018-19 school year. In addition, he was issued a 2018 PTA School Bell Award and also won the Guiding Star Award from Parents for Public Schools of Houston, a local nonprofit group.
The Kinder award recognizes innovative and results-oriented teaching while raising public awareness of the importance of effective and committed teachers. Two Houston top philanthropists, Nancy and Rich Kinder, support the generous cash awards for educators. Mr. Kinder co-founded Kinder Morgan, one of the nation’s largest energy infrastructure companies.
Winning teachers like Beeler represent regional educators with ties to Teach for America-Houston or charter groups like KIPP Texas Public Schools-Houston, YES Prep Public Schools or the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, which operates a group of Catholic schools. Beeler will be honored with Kinder’s other new award winners later this fall.
The Kinder Foundation reports that approximately 200 teachers have won a nomination-based award since its recognition program began in 2001.
A former Nashville, Tenn., police officer, Beeler first joined Spring Woods High as a Teach for America Corps member. He changed career paths after tutoring youth in an after-school program.
At Spring Woods High, Beeler is well known for several programs, including the summertime-focused The Woods Project, which provides teens first time experiences in federal and state parks, as well as national recreational areas. In the One Goal program, Beeler mentored first-generation college students, from their sophomore year at Spring Woods through their first year enrolled in college.
Most recently, Beeler has sparked interest in high school students and district campuses around food conservation, ecology and human “footprint” issues related to school lunches. Spring Woods students have created “share tables” where uneaten cafeteria food is made available to students who might be hungry or need food, or donated out to others in the local community.
The effort has diverted thousands of pounds of fruit and several thousand unopened drinks each year from local landfills to students or local homeless shelters.
To learn more about the Kinder Foundation’s mission and its annual awards visit their website.