Hats off and a round of applause are in order for the 2019-20 OCS “Teachers of the Year.” High School History Teacher and Director of the Institute of Global Leadership Matt Hurdle and Middle School Director of Bands Ryan Kelly are the recipients of this year’s Atsinger Teaching Excellence Award. The gentlemen were recognized at the commencement ceremonies for each school in front of their peers, students and OCS families.
In introducing Hurdle, last year’s high school recipient, History Teacher Jeff Dewey, said, “I marvel at his ability to adapt form and function of classroom management and instruction to meet the needs of wide-eyed incoming freshmen, while at same time serving the needs of our savvy college bound seniors.”
Flexibility, adaptation, collaboration and problem-solving are some of the traits that Hurdle has demonstrated in the classroom and with his student advisory group.
“Matt maintains an impressive educational balance between academic rigor and student learning outcomes while generating genuine bonds of endearment and mutual respect among his students and colleagues,” Dewey added.
In this last year, Hurdle has helped establish the Institute of Global Leadership, training students in entrepreneurship, leadership and global issues. Students have enjoyed guest lectures from experts in the fields of law enforcement, business and enterprise, as well as on-site excursions to area businesses.
He has taught at Oaks Christian since 2010. He and his wife, Hannah (Class of 2006) have two children.
Head of School Rob Black awarded the Middle School Teacher of the Year Award to Kelly during the live streamed eighth grade commencement.
"Over the years I have gotten to know Ryan and what impresses me most is not what he does, but who he is,” Black shared. “He is a strong mentor to young men who need a Godly figure in their lives.”
Even though considered electives, Kelly’s programs have continued to grow in popularity. Demand for band classes has steadily increased so that more sections were added with students on a waiting list. Kelly developed a new jazz lab and students eagerly showed up at 7:30am to be able to participate.
“Ryan continues to innovate and seek professional opportunities for growth,” said Black. “His level of innovation during COVID-19 was newsworthy as shown by a Fox 11 news segment of his virtual student concert.”
In addition, Kelly has been an important arts ambassador to the community, forming partnerships with local schools and organizations to bring non-OCS elementary students on campus for special OCS theatre performances they otherwise would not have been able to attend.
Kelly has taught at Oaks Christian since 2005, and has six children with his wife, Tricia, all OCS students or alumni. Their youngest, Ashlyn, is a current OCS student. Liam graduated from Oaks Christian in 2017. Aidan, Brendan, Jackson and Morgan are quadruplets and graduated with the Class of 2014.
The Atsinger Award was established by Ed Atsinger, Chairman and CEO of Salem Communication and an original and current OCS Board of Trustees member