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Sept. 16, 2015
By Nikeila Jensen, media relations assistant
An excerpt of this story appears in the fall 2015 Northwest Alumni Magazine. To view the Northwest Alumni Magazine in its entirety online, click here.
Northwest Missouri State University alumnus Brett Kisker recognizes the faculty, staff and classmates he met throughout his years at the University for their patience, character-building and effective teaching approaches.
By applying the lessons he learned at Northwest, Kisker, a Project Lead the Way teacher at Liberty North High School in Liberty, Mo., was recently named 2015 Liberty School District Teacher of the Year.
Project Lead the Way is an international organization that focuses on engineering curriculums for kindergarten through high school students.
Last fall, Kisker also received the 2014 MO STEM Educator Innovator award for his work influencing girls to take STEM courses. The award included a $2,000 stipend to build the program, which Kisker allocated to launch an engineering club for girls at two Liberty high schools.
Kisker credits school administrators and community partners as well as many industry supporters of Project Lead the Way. Kisker also attributes the program’s success to the many people who have helped him throughout the years.
“I’ve gotten really good at asking for help, humbling myself and not being too proud to ask for help,” Kisker said.
While studying under mentors like Northwest physics instructors Dr. John Shaw and Dr. David Richardson and former Director of Bands Al Sergel, Kisker served as a student ambassador, SOAR leader and teaching assistant for the physics department. Kisker says many campus leaders had an influence on his life and career.
“I could go on for a day,” Kisker said. “Everyone always talks about the family atmosphere, but it is very true. Northwest always felt like a family.”
Kisker received his undergraduate degrees in physics and physics education with a minor in secondary math education from Northwest in 2005. Kisker student-taught at Liberty High School and was hired after his graduation, teaching there for the next four years, while working toward his master’s degree in instructional technology at Northwest. Kisker then taught math at Staley High School for four years, before moving into his role as an engineering teacher – his dream job – at Liberty North High School in 2013.
Kisker believes Northwest provided him with the profession-based learning opportunities that continue to help him succeed as an educator.
“My view on education used to be about the content,” Kisker said. “Now it’s about the big picture, making subjects and topics personal to the kids.”
He encourages students to job shadow, seek advice from professionals in their field, start exploring careers early and think about the big picture.
“I think the outreach I do is what has attracted attention, but I’m pretty happy doing the outreach stuff and then hanging back in the shadows,” Kisker said. “Teaching is a profession that allows me to help so many kids get to where they want to be in life. I’m really just here to be a servant to them.”
Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
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