Math and robotics teacher Colin Waller of Hidden River Middle School received the Educator of the Year Award from the Sultan-Monroe Masonic Lodge and the statewide Grand Lodge at a recent awards ceremony held at the Lodge.
“Mr. Waller is always there for his students, works with students on his own time every day – most days after school, too,” said Linda Boyle, principal at Hidden River. She had never nominated anyone before, but was highly impressed with Waller’s dedication to his students. “The kids love him. He makes his life about learning.”
Lodge members make awards at their district level and the winners also move on to become candidates for the state level award. Waller was chosen out of between 50 and 100 top teachers.
“I was kind of blown away when Principal Boyle told me about the award,” Waller admitted. “I just thought of all the things I still need to improve on. It took me by surprise; a very nice surprise.”
When requests were made of the school last year in favor of getting more vocational-type classes, school leaders decided on a robotics program, but had no one to teach it. Waller agreed to tackle it. He spent all summer learning the program. “We’ve got kids coming back next year for a second year of it because they love it so much,” Boyle said. “It is really active learning. The kids are literally running around setting up tasks for their robots like picking up items in location and rebuilding that display in another. It’s amazing.”
Waller is currently also attending school to get his official certification as a robotics teacher through South Seattle Community College.
Waller has also stepped up to lead an after school study club to provide extra math assistance for the whole school. “I like to see them come around the corner, starting to really ‘get’ it.” He said. “That is what makes it all worth it.”
WB Larry D. Foley, chairman of the Public Schools/Scholarship Committee at the Lodge pointed out that the teachers who win these awards are those who go above and beyond, helping with extracurricular activities as well as their regular teaching duties. “Mr. Waller exhibited those traits we as Masons look for and support in the public educational system,” Foley said.