Skyview High librarian is state’s Teacher of the Year

His techniques called ‘transformational’

By Tom Vogt, Columbian science, military & history reporter

Published:

 
photoMark Ray
photoMark Ray, center, and other Washington State Teacher of the Year nominees wait for the award to be announced on Monday at the Experience Music Project in Seattle.

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Mark Ray of Skyview High School has been chosen as Washington’s Teacher of the Year.

The announcement was made Monday in Seattle, where state officials honored nine educators from around Washington who had been chosen as regional teachers of the year.

Ray is a teacher and librarian/media specialist at Skyview. He also assists his Vancouver Public Schools colleagues with instructional technology.

In the nomination process, parents and fellow teachers described Ray as “transformational” and credited his enthusiasm for the success of projects ranging from redesigning classroom assessments to igniting an enthusiasm for research among students.

“Every year, I can’t wait to see what new techniques he has come up with to help kids understand research,” said teaching colleague Brenda McKinney.

“From puppets to amazing PowerPoint skills, from in-depth knowledge to saying it exactly how it is, Mark uses the stage of his media center to let kids know that research is accessible,” McKinney said.

Ray’s teaching style was described as one “based on a firm belief that there are many ways to say ‘yes’ to a student and that even seemingly insignificant interactions can have an enormous impact on individual students.”

The announcement from the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction noted that Ray can assist teachers with new technology. But he also can help them develop new communication skills — sometimes based on the pop-culture phenomenon of vampires — to remind teachers that they have more ways than they realize to engage students.

Ray also coaches tennis at Skyview, where he has a “no cut” program.

Ray was honored about three weeks ago by the Vancouver school board after being named the Southwest Washington regional representative from Educational Service District 112.

“Teachers don’t teach because they expect to win awards,” Ray told the Vancouver school board members. “But I’m flattered and honored. I’m happy to represent Vancouver Public Schools.”

Ray’s father also was a Vancouver teacher, and his mother served lunch to Vancouver students.

‘Slayer of ignorance’

Ray has been a teacher for 19 years, all in Vancouver Public Schools with the exception of a two-year leave to oversee school libraries in Belgium.

Ray also has taught at Hough Elementary and Discovery Middle School, as well as the former Shumway Middle School.

Kym Tyelyn-Carlson, Skyview principal, described Ray as a “slayer of ignorance.”

“I have worked with Mark for five years, and have experienced firsthand the transformational effects of his work,” Tyelyn-Carlson said.

Ray also received a 2011 award from the Washington Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development for “influencing the instructional leadership and professional growth of educators.”

As state Teacher of the Year, Ray will work with community groups, businesses, government officials and future teachers around Washington.

He also will represent Washington at National Teacher of the Year program activities, including a national leadership conference in Washington, D.C.

Monday’s event was held at the Experience Music Project/Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame in Seattle.