I believe teachers should help students apply logic and reasoning to the content they are exposed to in order to verify its credibility, understand its implications, and make connections to their own lives and interests.”

Ryan’s Story

Teaching Discipline

Biology

Why Biology

“I love biology, and as one of my professors said, ‘It is literally the study of life, what could be more fascinating than that?!’ The wonders of the modern world never cease to amaze me. I love landscape-level ecology as much as I love human biology and the biochemical reactions happening in all life forms.”

Professional Experience

Prior to enrolling in college, Ryan spent two years as a Corps Member and Team Leader in the AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC). Through this national service program, he traveled throughout the country working on projects in education, poverty alleviation, disaster relief and conservation. Afterward, he spent another year working as AmeriCorps staff.

As an undergraduate at Warren Wilson College, Ryan was the recipient of a National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates (NSF-REU) grant. In summer 2007, he conducted research at the University of Virginia under his mentor, Dr. Manuel Lerdau, on an ecological study designed to examine the rates of predation on native, non-native invasive, and non-native but non-invasive tree species in the State Arboretum of Virginia.

After college, Ryan served for a year as the Public Allies Science Teaching Fellow at Eagle Rock School & Professional Development Center in Estes Park, Colorado. There, he co-taught and designed courses in riparian ecology, geology, astronomy, food systems, comparative ecology, and—a personal favorite of his—”the physics of mountain biking.”

Ryan continued his studies through the Field Naturalist & Ecological Planning graduate program at the University of Vermont. A program designed to develop deep knowledge of natural history and ecology, Ryan focused his graduate work on place-based education. His graduate project brought him to Adjuntas, Puerto Rico, where he partnered with a community organization to support the development of a place-based education initiative called Adjuntas: Paisaje Natural y Social.

Ryan then served for a year as an AmeriCorps VISTA member at the Big Picture program at South Burlington High School in Vermont. Big Picture is a “generalist” program where students design their own learning through individual projects and internships.

Before becoming a teacher, Ryan worked at Shelburne Farms, an educational nonprofit, for four years. Through the Sustainable Schools Project initiative, he facilitated continuing education professional development courses for teachers around the topics of education for sustainability, place-based education, and farm to school.

Ryan began teaching at Harwood Union High School in August 2018 as the science & math teacher in the Harwood Community Learning Center, an alternative pathway program where students design projects based around their interests and learn through community partnerships.

Volunteer Experience

Ryan volunteers with his community theatre in Burlington, Vermont. He recently performed in a leading role in the musical version of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels at the Flynn Theatre, a 1,400-seat historic theatre in downtown Burlington.

Hobbies

Ryan enjoys mountain biking and walking or hiking with his wife and their dog.

Academic Background

  • University of Vermont (Master of Science in Natural Resources)
  • Warren Wilson College (Bachelor of Science in Biology and Environmental Studies)