A philosophy of fun and lifelong learning: Mountain Crest Teacher of the Year, Tyler Hansen
Congratulations to Tyler Hansen for being named the Mountain Crest Teacher of the Year! Hansen has a talent for bringing his passion for learning into his teaching. On any given day, you can walk into his classroom to find his students studying crocodile teeth, learning about waterproofing evolution on the feathers of living ducks, or analyzing the many plants that fill his classroom. His wide range of interests also leads to a full schedule -- in addition to teaching an online earth science class, Hansen teaches agricultural biology, botany, environmental science, and AP Biology at Mountain Crest.
Hansen knows what it is like to eat, sleep, and breathe science. As a biology major at Utah State University, Hansen found that he loved researching and working with all kinds of science. As he neared graduation, he wanted to find a way to share his enthusiasm for biology while giving himself a break from the constant lab work. He decided that teaching would be the best route since he could bring everything he loves about science and share it with his local community.
In addition to his degree in biology and minor in chemistry, Hansen also dabbled in the humanities and philosophy. Ever since he fell in love with classic existentialist philosophers in high school, philosophy has been his passion outside of the sciences. He loves reading good books and he has been able to apply what he learns from these books in his life and his work.
“A lot of the philosophy principles that I apply to my teaching have to do with metaphysics, or the nature of reality and how we perceive reality,” Hansen elaborated. “In addition, epistemology is the study of how we learn things and how we know things, and that blends quite well with biology.” His understanding of pedagogy, the nature of reality, and how philosophy applies to science all lend to Hansen’s teaching methods and his desire to understand the world around him.
Mountain Crest Principal Teri Cutler refers to Hansen as a “Master Teacher” who brings a palpable excitement to every subject that he teaches, and is involved in student learning before, during, and after school hours. “He is innovative and creative,” Cutler explained. “He invites his students to be curious by incorporating experimentation and investigation into his teaching. Mr. Hansen is amazing with the special education and at-risk populations and can get them excited to learn about science. He gets to know each of his students one-on-one and makes sure they know how important education is to their future. He loves to teach. He loves to learn. He especially loves to see students learn and lives for that moment when a student “gets” it.”
For example, Hansen wanted his students to learn the genetic principles and technology behind genetic testing. After four years of grant writing, he amassed a lab capable of testing genetics right in Mountain Crest. This year, his entire AP biology class tested their genetics, focusing on their sleep cycles. The class analyzed their chronotypes (whether they were night owls or morning larks) and took a survey on their sleep habits to send to scientists who will publish these and other findings. These and other hands-on projects and activities set Hansen’s classes apart.
Hansen hopes that his students gain the skills necessary to continue their discoveries after leaving his class. “I hope they know where to find reliable material for figuring things out,” he explained. “I also hope that they understand some basic scientific principles behind some of the environmental impacts that we have on the planet and, hopefully, how to start being more active about preventing environmental issues at a community level. Above all, I hope they understand that science does not have to be a boring subject, but that science is fun.”
Hansen firmly believes that no good teaching is done in isolation. He would like to thank his fellow teachers and administrators for their friendship and support.