Spring Woods High science teacher Ryan Beeler was named a regional finalist earlier this week in the 2019 H-E-B Excellence in Education Awards.
Beeler, who was a 2018 SBISD Teacher of the Year finalist, was surprised on Tuesday, Feb. 19, by H-E-B representatives, including the hand-waving, brown-bag-of-groceries mascot called H-E-Buddy, during his final period classroom.
Students cheered on the pop-up H-E-B group visit and Beeler’s latest teaching award.
Amid the H-E-B balloons and cookies, Beeler was presented with a large representative check valued at $1,000; another $1,000 check goes to the high school. Beeler joins four other regional teacher finalists and two principals to compete against finalists across the state for the chance to win greater cash prizes ranging from $5,000 to $25,000.
A slightly stunned Beeler was still trying to process his award after picture taking with H-E-B representatives, his principal, and the student tennis team members he coaches. A few minutes after getting his award, he was being interviewed by award sponsors and a video crew. There was no advance notice.
“It’s really great to be recognized,” he said. “Teaching is the type of job where you don’t always see the fruits of your own work immediately. It takes years and years sometimes for kids to come back and say that something had an impact. This [award] means a lot.”
At Spring Woods High for the past six years, Beeler has taught environmental systems and Advanced Placement (AP) environmental science. A former Nashville, Tenn., police officer, he joined the high school here as a Teach for America Corps Member.
Beeler decided to change career paths after tutoring youth in a Nashville after-school program. He wanted to help young people make good choices early, rather than be a law-enforcement authority when adults have already made bad decisions.
Among other programs at Spring Woods, he has led and managed an outdoor camping club, The Woods Project, which has provided 70 high school students with first-time summertime experiences in federal and state parks, as well as in recreational areas nationwide.
He has also managed the One Goal program at the high school, which includes one-on-one and group mentoring with 16 first-generation college students from sophomore year in high school through their freshman college-year start last fall.
“Ryan Beeler is dedicated to Spring Branch ISD’s T-2-4 goal to double the number of students completing a technical certificate, military training, two-year degree or four-year degree,” Principal Jennifer Collier said among other compliments. “This is a lofty charge, but you will often see Mr. Beeler counseling our students on their futures and encouraging them to dream big and achieve big.”
“His love and passion for education, as well as his enthusiasm for working with people to make this world a better place through education, are greatly recognized,” Principal Collier also said.
The interest Beeler sparks in his own students about environmental responsibilities, the human ecological “footprint,” and in civic engagement has also led to creation of Spring Woods High “share tables” where uneaten cafeteria food is made available to students who may be hungry or need food, or donated out to others in the community.
Last year, more than 7,700 pounds of fruit and more than 12,000 unopened drinks were diverted through the program from local landfills to students or local homeless shelters.
Among his other recent honors, Beeler is also a 2018 PTA School Bell Award nominee. Last fall, he won the Guiding Star Award as one of the unsung heroes of public education in the Houston region.
The Guiding Star Award was issued by Parents for Public Schools of Houston (PPSH), a 26-year-old local nonprofit that works with related groups to advance causes deemed to be in the best interest of all children.
Several Spring Woods High instructors have won H-E-B or related teaching excellence awards, including science teacher and Beeler colleague Jamie Flint.
For details on the H-E-B Excellence in Education Awards visit their website.