One Class at a Time


Meadowlark Elementary teacher receives 'One Class at a Time' Award

Posted at 5:00 AM, May 12, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-12 07:00:01-04

Q2, Western Security Bank, City Brew Coffee and Education Foundation for Billings Public Schools have teamed up for "One Class at a Time." The program recognizes teachers who go above and beyond to help their students.

Meet Ryan Nafts, a 5th-grade science teacher who maintains an ecosystem in his classroom to help his students experience science in a more understanding way.

"I found with building these ecosystems, I can incorporate almost all of the science standards that we are asked to teach in a year plus more," said Mr. Nafts. "So it gives kids a hands-on experience where they can even make mistakes and learn from them. We do various research projects with these ecosystems when we set them up. Basically, it's real-life application of these science principles. Fun and engaging, but it also encourages and I've had students that have come through my room before that have gone on to become scientists and even marine biologists. I don't want to take credit for it, but their original exposure to it was through these ecosystem projects."

What does he hope students take from his class as they move on to the next level of schooling?

"I hope they take with them not only problem-solving skills but also an interest just in learning new things and being excited about not knowing things but then figuring out how to learn more about them and solve those problems. For me, really it's all about getting interested in learning and not just something you have to do on a daily basis. It's something you want to do because it's fun and interesting and also makes them a more powerful individual going forward with their knowledge."

His reaction to learning that students think he's one of the coolest teachers in school?

"I'm not sure that I'd consider myself cool, to be honest with you, but I do like to try to keep things interesting and fun and humorous, I can throw some curveballs in their direction. I mean I hope that's why they would say that I'm cool. I don't think I'm that cool. I'm just happy to be mentioned in the same breath as the word 'cool'."

For being a teacher who inspires curiosity and who is also very, very 'cool', Mr. Nafts was presented with a $500 grant sponsored by Western Security Bank and a $150 gift card from City Brew Coffee. Congratulations!

If you would like to nominate a teacher, click HERE. We could be honoring a teacher at your school next.