Asbury University Educator of the Month: Ryan Abbott: Making Meaningful Connections

 

Educator

Who wouldn’t want to take the fifth grade science class from veteran teacher Ryan Abbott? Look at what you get to do: To study aerodynamics, how about we make different types of paper airplanes to predict and measure their flying capability?

“The good thing about science class is that the kids don’t even realize what we’re doing is a lesson,” said Abbott, who taught at Wilmore Elementary for 17 years and will help open Red Oak, the new elementary school in Nicholasville.

Abbott, 40, shows the same excitement for his lessons as the students – who are one-quarter his age. Just get Abbott talking about his Mars Rover project and his infectious enthusiasm boils over and pulls you in. You can forget that he has a master’s degree in education with an endorsement in technology. (He worked as the technology coordinator at Wilmore Elementary).

Abbott is also a long-time golf and baseball coach at the two Jessamine County high schools and is working toward a master’s degree in sports administration.

A former college pitcher, he enjoys science class as much as the pitcher’s mound. As part of a unit on space, Abbott has his students break up in teams and design and build mini Mars Rovers out of cardboard powered by small motors.

“Our kids are using engineering, math and science,” Abbott said, but typically students are having too much fun to notice. “When the kids are able to make connections with real life, that’s when it really becomes meaningful for them. Not every kid loves the Mars Rover project but all of them remember it.”

They will probably remember the aquarium in Mr. Abbott’s room, too. Abbott introduced a salt-water fish tank to his class this past school year.

Students loved to watch the fish while they were learning about ecosystems, symbiotic relationships and how coral growth demonstrates cellular reproduction. A new aquarium joins Abbott at Red Oak.

“He’s passionate about science and the kids know he cares,” said Andi McNeal, the former Wilmore principal who is now at Red Oak. “He will help make the new school as wonderful as Wilmore was.”

Will Abbott be happy at his new school, teaching science amid his Mars Rovers and aquarium?

“If there is any position I would want as a teacher,” he said, “this is it.”

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