Teachers from across the Kenai Peninsula were honored for their work in local schools at the twentieth annual 2015 BP Teachers of Excellence award banquet Tuesday.
The Central Peninsula produced four winners, Jake Doth from Nikiski Middle-High School, Shannon Adair Dwyer from Skyview Middle School, James Harris from Soldotna High School and Matthew Widaman, who was named Teacher of the Year, from Kenai Central High School. Judy Gonzalves from West Homer Elementary was also named as a teacher of excellence.
“I am extremely proud of all of the recipients of the award,” said Superintendent Sean Dusek, who helped hand out the awards Tuesday evening. “It’s a great group of teachers that really exemplify what happens around the district. They do a great job.”
Dusek encouraged Widaman to say a few words after receiving his award for Teacher of the Year.
Widaman, who teaches career technology education, was nominated for his innovative program that brings relevant, updated training to Kenai Central High School students, Dusek said.
In the middle of his speech, Widaman laughed and noted that news travels fast among teachers. Fellow educator Sargent Truesdell, principal of Skyview Middle School, sent Widaman a text that said “You the man” to congratulate Widaman for his award.
“You do this for the students,” Widaman said. “An educator doesn’t go into this profession for the awards and accolades.”
Widaman thanked Secondary Education Director John O’Brien, as well as Kenai Central principal Alan Fields for supporting his programs.
Widaman began working for the school district in 2002, O’Brien said.
Widaman reapplied to work in the school district after spending a few years working in Wyoming, “it was a no-brainer to hire him back,” O’Brien said.
As soon as he was back, Widaman began asking O’Brien and school district Career Technology Education Coordinator Dan Bohrnsen for new classroom technologies.
“Matt has kept up with the latest technology in the Manufacturing, Construction and Architecture career pathways,” Bohrnsen said.
“He has exposed his students to these twenty-first century skills needed for success in our current workforce.”
Widaman’s students a proficient at using the 3D printers, CNC plasma machines, up-to-date welding equipment and AutoCad, which is the most widely used drafting program in the nation, Bohrnsen said.
Widaman will be assuming Bohrnsen’s position next fall as coordinator.
Dusek said the BP awards incorporate various community members including industry partners, educators, family and students into the decision to honor teachers. He said he is looking forward to continuing to recognize school district members who deserve praise for their work in Kenai Peninsula classrooms.
Reach Kelly Sullivan at firstname.lastname@example.org