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SKyTeach master teacher receives national UTeach award

Dr. Max Dass (left), immediate past president of UTeach STEM Education Association, presents the Outstanding Master Teacher Award to Rico Tyler (right) of WKU SKyTeach at the 2018 UTeach Conference. (Photo by Brett Buchanan)

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (May 24, 2018) – Rico Tyler, master teacher with WKU’s SKyTeach program, received the Outstanding Master Teacher Award this week at the 2018 UTeach Conference in Austin, Tx.

“SKyTeach has a long association with the national UTeach effort and the UTeach STEM Educators Association,” Tyler said. “Being part of this national effort to improve mathematics and science education is exciting work.”

Before joining WKU in 2001, Tyler spent 19 years teaching high school physics and won the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science Teaching. During his time teaching high school, he served a year on loan to the Kentucky Department of Education as a science teaching consultant. Since 1984, he has been an astronomy faculty member of the Kentucky Governor’s Scholars Program.

His interests include providing professional opportunities for both SKyTeach students and practicing teachers. He created a Teaching Fellows Program in cooperation with the Governor’s Scholars Program, giving SKyTeach students the opportunity to develop inquiry-teaching skills by co-teaching with GSP science faculty.

In 2012, he began an international student teaching program with the Liceo Scientifico Respighi, a science magnet high school in Piacenza, Italy. Tyler also directs a regional bridge building contest and a K–12 rocket competition. During the months leading up to the August 2017 solar eclipse, he conducted numerous workshops preparing Kentucky teachers to share the experience with students.

In addition to his SKyTeach work, Tyler is the co-director of the National STEM Scholar Program. In partnership with the National Stem Cell Foundation, the STEM Scholar Program recruits creative middle school science teachers from across the U.S. to promote creative approaches to inquiry learning. He has also conducted workshops on the 5E model and inquiry learning for teachers from Italy, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

UTeach is a nationally recognized STEM teacher preparation program at the University of Texas at Austin that spurred the national expansion effort in partnership with Exxon Mobile and the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI) creating the UTeach Institute. The UTeach Institute comprises 46 universities in 22 states and the District of Columbia implementing UTeach programs to prepare mathematics and science teachers for service in our nation’s schools.

WKU was selected as one of the first 12 UTeach replication sites in the U.S. in 2007 and has graduated 269 students as of spring 2018. At the 2017 UTeach Conference, SKyTeach was recognized for producing the most STEM teacher graduates by a UTeach university affiliate.

The SKyTeach program has more than 150 students enrolled and continues to provide quality training to both pre-service teachers within the program and practicing teachers through professional development workshops.