CHIPPEWA TWP. — Turns out, the second time is the charm for Ryan Hardesty.
Hardesty, a middle school teacher at Blackhawk's Highland Middle School, was named a finalist for Pennsylvania's 2023 Teacher of the Year Award. Hardesty was previously nominated in 2020 but didn't make it to the finals. This year, Hardesty is one of 12 finalists across the state, according to an announcement May 9 from Gov. Tom Wolf's administration.
The Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year Program recognizes excellence in teaching by honoring K-12 teachers in public education who have made outstanding academic contributions to Pennsylvania’s school-aged children.
Hardesty has spent the last 13 years teaching seventh-grade Ancient World History and eighth-grade U.S. History, while also serving as part of the HMS Student Assistance Program, sits on the Curriculum Council, leads the eighth-grade field trip to Washington, D.C., each year, and announces Lady Cougars' home basketball games.
To be not only nominated for a second time in his career, but be named a finalist in the state means a great deal to the longtime Blackhawk teacher.
"It's a really cool thing. I think it's awesome that a student and a family went out of their way to do that," Hardesty told The Times after being named a finalist. "It just means a lot to me, especially as a middle school teacher, for a middle school student to think that highly of me to nominate me."
"Congratulations to the outstanding educators who have been chosen as finalists for Pennsylvania’s 2023 Teacher of the Year,” Acting Secretary of Education Eric Hagarty said in a press release announcing the state finalists. “Our commonwealth’s learners depend on engaged, enthusiastic teachers to make a high-quality education both approachable and accessible to all, and this cohort of educators has set the bar for their dedication to their students, schools, and communities.”
Hardesty was actually nominated in 2020, but due to COVID the process was delayed for a year. That process following a nomination includes submission of lesson plans, teaching philosophy, and other interview questions before moving onto the second round as the top 32 teachers in the state.
Once in the top 32, Hardesty participated in a series of Zoom interviews that were recorded for voters across the state to then watch and grade, narrowing it down to the 12 finalists. Now a finalist, Hardesty has to record a lesson in the classroom of his teaching, along with two other videos introducing voters to Highland Middle School, as well as other teachers.
"I'm humbled by the whole experience," Hardesty said. "I work really hard, and it's awesome to be recognized, but I know there are a lot of great educators out there. I'm inspired and motivated by my amazing colleagues at Blackhawk that are just as deserving of this award.
"Our community has always been great and supportive of me and our teachers," he added. "But it feels nice to be recognized like this for the effort and work I put in."
"Mr. Hardesty has a love of teaching and a passion for creating a dynamic classroom environment for students," Highland Middle School Principal Amy Anderson said in a statement. "Students walking into Mr. Hardesty's classroom experience social studies in a way that is memorable and engaging for them. The state of HMS are so proud of Mr. Hardesty and we wish him well in the finals!"
Pennsylvania’s Teacher of the Year will be announced at a state awards ceremony in Harrisburg in the winter and the winner will represent Pennsylvania at the National Teacher of the Year ceremony at the White House.
Stay informed: Download the Times app at https://app.adjust.com/tj0idhm?fallback=https%3A%2F%2Fcm.timesonline.com%2Fsubscriberguide%2F%23apps.
This article originally appeared on Beaver County Times: Blackhawk's Ryan Hardesty named a state Teacher of the Year finalist