MNJHS teacher named 2016 Utah Earth Science Teacher of the Year

r Kirk Wright, a science teacher at Mt. Nebo Junior High School in Payson, was recently recognized for earning the 2016 Utah Earth Science Teacher of the Year Award from the National Association of Geoscience Teachers.

Kirk Wright is married with four children and one grandchild. He and his wife Jolynn are both teachers and have dedicated their lives to the education of children. Jolene has taught for almost 19 years and Kirk is starting his 12th year. He is excited about some new changes at MNJHS that involve the incorporation of a “discovery” class and hands-on, project-based learning that will be tried out for the first time school-wide.

Kirk is involved in science fair, underwater robotics and chess club at his school and has had students who have won awards in all three of these activities over the years. He hopes to have students start participating in the Science Olympiad this year as part of the discovery class model being introduced at the school.

His philosophy of teaching involves connecting to the passions that each student has in their life. He believes that when a teacher can connect to that unique, burning passion that all individuals have, learning takes on a life of its own. To this end, he believes it is his responsibility to develop a depth and breadth of knowledge not only in science but in as many subjects as possible to be able to spark that passion within a student or connect with that passion that is already there.

Kirk has completed degrees at Brigham Young University and Mississippi State and has continued taking classes at Utah Valley University in pursuit of broadening his knowledge base. In addition, he believes that helping a student build up and value their imagination, while realizing the importance of the structure and boundaries found in life, are also key to helping them realize their passions.

In the end, he believes in giving students as many opportunities as possible to connect their individual passions to concrete projects and activities that can produce tangible results that build their self-esteem and self-confidence. Last year, he had two students take a project all the way to ISWEEP in Houston, Texas, and win a bronze medal (Dallas Jensen and Hayden Heaton).

Chris Baird
Chris Baird
Chris is a family man with a beautiful wife and four kids. Three Girls, One Boy. He enjoys playing basketball, being outdoors, and the old normal.

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