When a player on a team wins an award, most often than not that player will say more about their teammates than themselves. The same holds true for Soldotna High School biology and health teacher Pat Nolden, who was honored as a 2012 Kenai Peninsula BP Teacher of Excellence.
"Soldotna High School and the science department is the team," Nolden said. "I feel humbled about the whole experience. Because I know all the teachers in my particular school and throughout the district are great teachers also. And why I'm singled out, I'm not really sure of the whole situation but I'm flattered."
The other teachers receiving the award from the Kenai Peninsula were Melissa Cloud and Shellie Worsforld of West Homer Elementary and 2012 Kenai Peninsula BP Teacher of the Year, Sean Campbell, of Homer High School.
Nolden's favorite aspect of being in the classroom is being around the students, he said.
"It's the whole deal about the kids being grateful to the teacher all the time," Nolden said.
In his 28 years of teaching, he's had numerous experiences with students that he's thankful for.
If he's not in the classroom, and it's winter time, Nolden can be found on the bench of the SoHi hockey team.
Whether it's hockey or biology or health, Nolden makes sure the students are learning something they can use outside of the classroom -- it's what makes him tick.
"The idea of learning and the idea of learning a concept and then being able to apply that to every day life, that's when the light bulb comes on and says 'OK, I get emphysema now,' it's that moment that says, 'OK now I know what that is,'" he said.
He tries to follow a pattern with his instruction. He'll have a lecture discussion, then switch gears to book assignments, then have an activity and then a review and then have a test on the subject.
"Those things vary from time to time but that's kind of the approach I take," Nolden said. "The reviews can be art or a digital presentation, they can vary, but it's kind of that initial format."
Nolden attributes a teacher enrichment pathway that he and his colleagues participated in as to what helped him continue success in the classroom.
This was Nolden's second time receiving the honor. Nolden said the collaboration between his fellow teachers was a big help in restructuring lesson plans.
"The idea of me winning this award, well I'm teaching a lot of the same material Chris Hanson is in his biology class and working with Dave Emery in his health class with the same types of materials," Nolden said.
Nolden said the award is a feather in the cap for his fellow teachers and the administration that supported them with evaluations of their material.
"I think it's the working together with our science department and under the directive from (Kenai Peninsula Borough School District) administration," he said.
The students must be hearing the messages Nolden is giving to them. That's what he strives for. If students ask him why are they learning about a particular topic, Nolden tells them how it applies to life.
"I'm always stressing why things are important, and I always challenge kids to ask me, 'Why do we need know this?' and hopefully I can give them an answer where they'll nod their head and say 'OK','" he said. "I guess that's the idea of the practicality of what you're learning, whether you go on to college or whether your interests bring you in an area other than science or college."
Logan Tuttle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.