Paul Andersen - Council of Chief State School Officers

2011 Montana Teacher of the Year
Bozeman High School
Bozeman, MT
School profile:
Students in district:
Students in building:
Teaching area:
Teaching level:
Years in teaching:
Years in present position:
2011 National Teacher of the Year Finalist
Paul Andersen
8 Page 1
Educational History and Professional Development Activities
A. Educational History
Postgraduate Studies, Science Education
Montana State University-Bozeman
Loyola Marymount University, Enhancement Courses
Chapman University, Enhancement Courses
Master of Science in Science Education
Capstone Project: Directed Inquiry: Motion Analysis and Electrical Circuits
Montana State University-Bozeman
Bachelor of Science in Biology
Biology Teacher Certification
Broadfield Science Teacher Certification
Montana State University-Bozeman
B. Employment History
Bozeman High School, Bozeman, MT
AP Biology, Biology, Physical Science, and Earth Science
Technology Coordinator
Grades 9-12
KG High School, Gildford, MT
Life Science, Physical Science, Earth Science, Biology, Chemistry,
and Physics
Grades 7-12
C. Professional Association Membership
National Science Teachers Association
Montana Science Teachers Association
National Education Association
American Federation of Teachers
Bozeman Education Association
Montana Education Association - Montana Federation of Teachers
2011 National Teacher of the Year Finalist
Paul Andersen
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D. Staff Development Leadership Activity
Science Coordinator
Qwest Science and Math Leadership Conference: Montana Learning Center
Conference Coordinator
Springtime in the Rockies Conference: Montana Learning Center
District Presenter
Teacher Inservice - Yin-Yang Technology: Hyalite Elementary School
Coordinator and Founding Member
“Tech Junkies” Professional Learning Community: Bozeman High School
Inservice Coordinator
High School Inservice - Effective Educational Technology: Bozeman High School
Lesson Plan Development
Pond Water Popsicles: Big Sky Institute
Team Leader
Students and Teachers as Team Leaders (STAR) Project: Montana State University
E. Teacher Awards and Recognition
Montana Teacher of the Year
Montana Professional Teaching Foundation
Technology Leadership Network’s “20 to Watch” Educators
National School Boards Association
Distinguished Educator Award
Bozeman Schools Foundation
Award of Recognition of Superior Achievement in Science Education
Montana Science Teachers Association
M. J. Murdock Charitable Trust Partners in Science Award
Effects of Antibiotic Resistance on Biofilm Formation Capabilities in Clinical Isolates
Distinguished Educator Award
Bozeman Schools Foundation
2002 Commencement Speaker,
Kremlin-Gildford High School
1995-2000 Montana Coach of the Year: Cross-country and Track and Field , Six-time Winner
2011 National Teacher of the Year Finalist
Paul Andersen
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III. Professional Biography
A. Influencing Factors
My father was a math education professor at Montana State University and so my childhood was filled with
teachers. I would occasionally tag along to summer institutes, where I would fulfill such important duties as counting
M&Ms for the lesson on statistics or turning off the computers after a session on computer programming. This limited
exposure shaped me as a teacher; concepts such as collaborative learning and the inquiry method were not foreign to
me when I began my career. They were simply the way to teach. I cannot credit my father enough for the training he
gave me as an educator. He didn’t lecture he simply modeled good instruction. I had never considered teaching until
I was in college but this early preparation gave me a solid foundation.
My science methods professor gave me the confidence I needed to enter the field. On the first day of class
each of us had to pick a topic out of the hat and teach a small lesson. Mine was “How do muscles work?” Many of the
students in the class were nervous and struggled. But to me this assignment was no big deal. I used the white board
in the front of the room to draw a simple diagram of the arm with the biceps and triceps muscles working in opposition.
I also demonstrated the topic using my own arm. I remember this day in vivid detail because it was the first time that
someone had asked me to teach. It felt natural from the beginning. I remember walking home after class telling
myself "You can do this."
An old proverb states that when the student is ready the teacher will appear. This was the
case for me and my methods professor.
I was a good teacher for the first ten years of my profession but I never realized that I could become a great
teacher until l failed. For the first ten years of my career, coaching was also an important part of my job. I aspired to
be the head cross-country coach and applied for the position when it finally opened. I didn’t get the job and I was
initially crushed. Coaching had come to define me and I struggled with this loss for a year. But my life started to
change when I quit coaching. Suddenly I had more time available in the afternoons and weekends to concentrate on
my classes. I grew more introspective and questioned every aspect of my teaching. I built an online class with
lectures that extended my classroom. I experimented with inquiry labs and formative assessments. I formed a
professional learning group that met weekly to discuss the effective use of technology in education. I wouldn’t
recognize the teacher I was five years ago nor would I ever want to go back. My vision for the future of education
wakes me up in the middle of the night. I’m not discouraged when I try something new in the classroom and it falls
flat. Rather, I learn from that failure. That failure pushes my development as a teacher.
2011 National Teacher of the Year Finalist
Paul Andersen
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B. Greatest Contributions
In general, my greatest overall contribution in education has been in the growth of my students. If I had
written that five years ago, I would have been referring to the students in my classes. But because I believe that as a
teacher I have a responsibility to share my knowledge with anyone who is receptive to learning, my students today
include not only those sitting in my classroom, but also the teacher in the classroom next door and anyone around the
world who accesses my videos on the Internet. And after talking with some former students and reading the letters of
recommendation that other have written for me, I have to say that specifically, my two greatest contributions in
education have been online lectures and professional development.
I have been posting lessons to YouTube for the last two years; these videos have generated over 400,000
views so far. Posting these lectures online has been a very positive experience for both my students and myself. It
allows the students in my class to preview and review lessons from class at home on their own schedule, and the
online feedback I’ve received has helped me become a better teacher. The criticism that has been offered has been
constructive and the comments overall have been extremely positive. One student who has been watching my
lectures online wrote, “Hey, great videos. They help a whole lot. More teachers from where I'm from need to
understand that to teach us they gotta get into our world, which is the internet/technology/video. You're helping out
more than just your students now, thanks.” You can view my videos at
and read the comments to judge my effectiveness for yourself.
Teaching other teachers is another story. It is like performing standup comedy in front of a group of
They can be noisy, inconsiderate, and hypercritical. They can also be the best students in the world.
Good teachers are constantly looking for new strategies and lessons. I have found mentoring other teachers to be
one of my greatest contributions to education. I organized a weekly professional learning community at our school
and I have presented at numerous conferences around the state. I have found after presenting something new to
teachers that when they respond, "If you could get us some time and some training we could look into doing this," they
are just being polite. They may not be interested in changing the way they teach. They may also simply be too busy.
But teachers who ask specific questions or who come up after an in service are serious about improving their
teaching. A good teacher is always willing to change. A great teacher is never willing to stop.
2011 National Teacher of the Year Finalist
Paul Andersen
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IV. Community Involvement
I have reached a delicate balance between the time I spend teaching, the time I spend with my family, and the
time I spend involved in the community. I have always volunteered time to local activities such as coaching soccer
and working at the Sweet Pea Festival. However, over the last few years the amount of time that I am willing to give
back to my profession has increased.
Two years ago I was at a meeting with our vice principal and a few other teachers at the high school to
discuss professional development. Technology offers many new ways to improve education, but every time we would
present the material to teachers we were greeted with a lack of enthusiasm. There is a famous episode of Seinfeld
where George Costanza decides that every decision he has made in his life was wrong. He decides that therefore the
opposite of every decision would be the correct decision - the Costanza Rule. I proposed that we should use this rule
to implement change at the high school. We started having "secret" meetings each week in the high school library and
we would talk about technology and education. We invited no one. Other teachers noticed and became interested.
But the only way to attend the meetings was to ask us about them. The initial meetings were small but they have
since grown and we have 45 people on the email list. Now somewhere between 10-20 people attend each week.
Attendance is totally optional and they attract some of the most interesting teachers, parents, administrators, and
students in the district. We have made some significant changes at the high school as a result of these meetings,
including board approval of a new electronic use policy at the high school. The story of the Tech Junkies, as we call
ourselves, can also be viewed in a Bozeman Daily Chronicle article that is archived at the following address:
I have been a board member on the Montana Learning Center for the last three years and have donated
hundreds of hours. I organized and ran the Springtime in the Rockies conference this last spring. Dozens of teachers
from around the state learned twenty-first century teaching strategies. One of the attendees described the conference
in the following way: “This is definitely one of the best conferences I have ever been to. The information and
presenters were “real” and the knowledge I gained can now be used to improve education.“ I am also the science
organizer for the $50,000 Qwest Leadership Conference. This conference will mentor ten exemplary math and
science teachers from around the state. These teachers will eventually present at the state level and online through a
video podcast. Assuming we receive funding for next year, these teachers will eventually become administrators of
the grant.
2011 National Teacher of the Year Finalist
Paul Andersen
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V. Philosophy of Teaching
A. Personal Beliefs
Imagine looking up into the sky and seeing the moon in the phase pictured to the right.
Could you draw the position of the earth, the sun and the moon to create this specific phase?
Most students will incorrectly draw the three objects lined up in an eclipse position. I feel that all
students enter my classroom with preconceived notions, often inaccurate, about how the world
works. But once they have a correct understanding of a concept they can properly add detail. As
a science teacher the constructivist movement within education has always made the most sense to me. An instructor
must first assess each student’s current level of understanding to take them any further. Nearly all the students
entered my science class with an incorrect conception that they had acquired after nearly a decade of instruction.
Until students are provided the opportunity to apply a new construct using a model earth, sun and moon in a “hands on” laboratory, they find it difficult to understand how this system works. Lectures are not useless, but they must be
tied to direct student interactions to be effective.
Innovative Instructional Methods
Each of my classes begins with the Question of the Day. An example from my AP Biology class was “Why is
DNA double stranded?” Students text their answers electronically using their cell phones. The answers are instantly
transmitted to my computer in the front of the room. I have found this to be a very non-threatening way to expose
what they think. Learning new concepts is a delicate matter, much like failing. We must be willing to throw out old
information to arrive at a new truth. The Question of the Day allows students to connect with their parents at night at
home. It provides them with answers other than “Fine” or “Nothing” when their parents ask those dreaded questions,
“How was school today?” or “What did you learn in school today?”
I have created video podcasts for each of the units within my curriculum. Students use them to preview the
material before we discuss it in class. Some pause the videos and take notes. Some watch the videos five times for
understanding. Others use them to study for tests. The point is that students will use them on their own time to study
in a way that is most productive for them. Technology offers students a chance to learn according to their specific
learning profile. Five years ago I attended a conference by Dr. Carol Tomlinson on differentiated instruction. I
remember feeling excited about the material but worried about the required classroom time for individualized
instruction. These podcasts provide the perfect solution.
2011 National Teacher of the Year Finalist
Paul Andersen
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Rewards of Teaching
Teaching doesn't take place in a vacuum and without positive feedback from students I would have quit long
ago. Last year a student was struggling with AP Biology; the sticking point seemed to be the structure of DNA. I had
him come in after class and detail the process of DNA replication. I would simply ask him questions and listen to his
responses. It was fascinating. He believed that each strand of DNA came from a different parent (one from Mom and
one from Dad). This is a common belief but it is also absolutely wrong. My lectures were confusing him because they
didn’t fit his model.
We had to begin at the most basic level to bring him to a point of understanding. Working with students
individually is one of my favorite activities. I spend hours each week working with students during my prep period. It is
teaching in its purest form. I just received the AP Biology scores in the mail and he did better than I ever could have
imagined. I look forward to his smiling face visiting my office this fall. He learned a tremendous amount in the class
but he taught me a greater lesson: he reminded me that good teaching begins with careful listening.
B. Personal Teaching Style
I have always been internally motivated to do good work. I remember working at a sandwich shop in college.
I was always trying to find the fastest way to produce the perfect sandwich. I knew most of the customers would never
notice the extra thought I put into the sandwich but doing so was still important to me. Applying the scientific method
to sandwich making may seem a little absurd, but I would argue that applying it to teaching is critical.
I constantly evaluate my teaching to improve instruction. Last year I experimented with the idea of homework.
Students were so concerned with their grades that they were sharing answers to receive perfect homework scores.
This was a flaw in the design of my class. These were formative assessments and I was grading them as if they were
summative. Applying the Costanza Rule I threw out the status quo and did the exact opposite. I quit grading the
homework and it changed the dynamic of the class. Students were not graded on their ability to complete
assignments but rather on their ability to learn. I also increased the value of the unit tests. To help the students
prepare I added a series of homework alternatives online, including podcasts, videos, flash cards, practice tests,
webcasts, learning profiles, review sheets, and wikis. Students quickly started scoring ten percent higher than the
previous year’s classes. My student’s average score on the AP Biology test this spring (3.8) was nearly one point
higher than the previous year and ninety percent of the students passed.
2011 National Teacher of the Year Finalist
Paul Andersen
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VI. Educational Issues and Trends
A. Major Educational Issues
A credit crisis in our housing market crashed banks in Europe and raised food prices around the world. The
unemployment rate hovers near ten percent and in some large cities, like Detroit, nearly three in ten people are
unemployed. This comes at a time when many inner city schools are failing. In America’s 50 largest cities not quite
half of students entering high school as freshman are graduating. On standardized tests like the Trends in
International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), our scores continue to trail the rest of the world. Our students
fall behind during middle school and simply cannot compete with students from countries like Singapore and Japan.
All of these statistics point to an educational system in crisis. And the political changes we’ve had over the last
decade have largely failed to reverse these trends.
The Bush administration attempted to improve the current state of education through use of the No Child Left
Behind (NCLB) Act. The goal of NCLB was to provide every student in the public school systems with an opportunity
to succeed. It was probably the most important piece of civil rights legislation passed since the 1960s. We have seen
test scores improve slightly, and the parents of students in failing schools have more options. However, NCLB has
done little to prepare our students for a changing future that requires creative solutions to difficult problems. By
creating an environment where “teaching to the test” is rewarded, time spent on developing critical thinking skills has
diminished. I have seen an increase in the amount of testing and an increased emphasis on remaining in compliance
with NCLB at our school. It is hard to fault the administrators who are judged publicly when each school’s test scores
are published in the local newspaper, and when they face the possibility of punitive cuts in funding. The fixation on
math and reading scores has also led to a decrease in the funding of and attention to the arts.
The largest initiative of the Obama administration has been the $4 billion Race to the Top. This federal
program requires states to compete for funds using a detailed checklist. Points are awarded for programs that comply
with the administration’s criteria for improving schools. For example, Montana would receive 40 of 500 points for
creating high-performing charter schools. But the Montana Constitution restricts this by making local school boards
the chartering entity. This is a perfect example of imperfect legislation.
Politics will drive educational reform for the foreseeable future. That is inevitable. It will also be ineffective until we get
buy-in from students, teachers, and parents. I have learned through my teaching career that change cannot be
mandated. It must come from within. Organizing a small group of passionate stakeholders is the first step.
2011 National Teacher of the Year Finalist
Paul Andersen
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Educational Technology
In 2010 the Department of Education released the results of a meta-analysis on online education. According
to the report, online learning is more effective than direct instruction. It further found that a blended classroom (one
featuring both direct instruction and an online learning component) is superior to both. The researchers noted that
most of the data was gathered from colleges since these programs are not widely available at the high school level. I
see this as a great opportunity.
I had a student in my class who made me rethink education. She was clearly bright but she failed to turn in
homework and was getting a low D in my class. I had just started the wiki project at the time. The wiki document
allows students to work collaboratively on a review document that could be beneficial to the whole class. I was looking
at the number of edits each of the students had made to the document when I discovered something amazing. She
had made nearly ten times the number of edits as any other student. She had been spending hours each night on an
assignment that would not affect her grade because she was interested in the topic. She was more interested in
learning the material than receiving a good grade. I gradually gave her more responsibilities and she quickly became
a second teacher in the online class. She finished the year with an A in the class. She also taught me a lesson. We
occasionally have to meet students where they are, not where we would like them to be.
At the end of the school day most students enter into a world of technology. Texting and Facebook keep
students connected every moment of the day. Moodle offers me an opportunity to extend the classroom and find
students wherever they are. Many of my students will spend more time in my online classroom than my real
classroom. It also gives students who are normally quiet in class the ability to contribute to the discussion. Not only
are we able to find them but we are able to provide them with a richer learning environment. Some people see the
future of education as an electronic textbook. But curriculum is not just a textbook anymore. It can be found in videos,
podcasts, discussion boards, wikis, blogs, primary documents, and much more.
Technology offers great change but it also presents great distraction. Traveling this summer I noticed that
fellow travelers spent more time posting to Facebook than enjoying the actual trip. Students confess to spending
hours each night chatting with friends. We could throw up our hands and ban technology from our schools or we could
choose to see this as a teachable moment. Our society faces a multitude of serious problems that require our
combined focus. Morning runs give me an extended period of time to just think. Likewise we, as a society, need to
take the necessary time and care to address educational issues facing us in a responsible and careful fashion. We
need to ignore the distractions and spend more time thinking hard.
2011 National Teacher of the Year Finalist
Paul Andersen
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VII. The Teaching Profession
A. Teaching Profession
Early in my career I concerned myself with content. I spent hours at night planning the lessons for the next
day. I quickly completed these lessons and found myself back at the drawing board. This time of intense practice was
important in my development as a teacher. According to Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers it takes 10,000 hours of practice
to excel at an art. Gladwell argues that we must have the skills necessary for doing the job, but we must also be
willing to put in the time. I feel as though it has taken me 15 years to become good at teaching. I am now able to give
back to the profession.
The number of projects I am involved with has grown dramatically over the last few years but it hasn’t added
stress. I meet weekly with teachers throughout the district to discuss educational technologies. I presented to the
school board on the mega-issue of technology and was instrumental in passing the new electronics use policy. I
presented to teachers throughout the state on twenty-first-century learning. I serve as a technology mentor for the
staff at Bozeman High School. I worked with another biology teacher to develop a set of inquiry labs for AP Biology. I
developed an online classroom that is both optional and popular. I developed a complete set of video podcasts for AP
Biology. I even lectured for 2000 hours on YouTube the day before the AP Biology test.
I am a technology advocate but I am a science teacher. I am fascinated by the natural world and I enjoy
sharing this with the students in my class. I spent the last two summers working as a researcher in the Medical
Biofilms Laboratory as a part of the Murdock Trust’s Partners in Science award. I spent most of the time studying the
biofilm capabilities of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. I eventually presented my results at the national conference in San
Diego. This gave me real-world experience that I was able to share with my students. I have also been involved in
numerous trips to South America. This spring another biology teacher and I volunteered to take a group of fourteen
students on our third trip to the Galapagos Islands. We spent over two weeks in the Ecuadorian section of the
Amazon Rainforest and on many of the islands in the Galapagos chain. This allowed the kids to see firsthand the
biodiversity of life as they walked in the steps of the world’s most famous naturalist, Charles Darwin. Students
consistently describe this trip as the most informative and enjoyable they had ever taken.
2011 National Teacher of the Year Finalist
Paul Andersen
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B. Teacher Accountability
Effective teachers are accountable to themselves. I have days in the classroom when everything works to
perfection and I feel like a master teacher. I also have days in the classroom when nothing works and I feel like I am a
beginning again. On days like that it would be easy to simply blame the kids. However, good teachers are able to
carefully analyze the lesson, learn from their mistakes, and greet the next day with a positive attitude. Methods that
work should be prized, remembered and used for years to come. Methods that do not work should be quickly dropped
from the repertoire. Master teachers are able to assess themselves on a daily basis to create success for their
students in the classroom. The next level of accountability for each teacher must be to the students in their specific class. As I have
matured I have realized that this is just the first step. Teachers cannot adequately serve these students unless they
are accountable to the teaching profession. There is a great amount of freedom in teaching when a teacher closes the
door. It is too easy to become isolated and not give back to the profession. If we are not willing to become active
participants in educational reform, then we will have nothing to complain about when the choices are made by
someone else.
Current research shows that there is only one way to improve student achievement and that is to increase
teacher quality. According to Dr. Steven Rivkin of Stanford University, five consecutive years of good teachers can
erase the achievement gap between low-income and high-income students. His studies showed that good teachers
got "an entire year's worth of additional learning out of their students, compared to those near the bottom."
Experiences with my own children’s teachers have driven this point home. My daughter initially struggled with reading.
I will never forget the encouragement and perseverance of her teacher. She now loves reading and writing.
The time lost to a bad teacher is never recovered. Removing bad teachers is the simplest solution to the
problems facing our schools today. According to Dr. Rivkin, bad teachers are not concentrated in specific schools but
are found throughout every school. In many large districts nearly all the teachers will receive outstanding or above
average ratings. Apparently it is easier to reward someone as a good teacher than it is to punish him for being a poor
teacher. Principals are able to identify bad teachers but they are not always willing to do what it takes to get rid of
them. Teachers must share some of this blame. Schools are in crisis and one of the main causes may be teaching in
the classroom down the hall. We should advocate for our students but we should also advocate for the integrity of our
2011 National Teacher of the Year Finalist
Paul Andersen
Page 12
VIII. National Teacher of the Year
A. My Message
Human history has undergone three major shifts. The agricultural revolution gave us a constant food supply
and our culture flourished. The industrial revolution increased the standard of living and the world population boomed.
According to Thomas Friedman the technological revolution has shared all human knowledge and flattened our world.
Most schools have missed this third revolution. The industrial design of a standard classroom is preparing students for
a factory that doesn’t exist anymore. The jobs of the future will require creative students who are able to work
collaboratively around the world. If our schools are not willing to change with society our students will fall further and
further behind.
My life was molded by the amazing teachers of my own education. I don’t consider myself a great teacher but
I do aspire to be one. If I can positively change the life of one student all of this time and effort will have been
worthwhile. I do have a clear vision for the future of education. This vision does not come from my mind but from my
experience. I have worked tirelessly to connect with the digital natives in our schools. I have shared these lessons
online and through professional development opportunities. I would be an excellent choice for the National Teacher of
the Year in 2010.
Two characteristics shared by all great teachers are sincerity and humility. The transformative teachers in my
own life always made a personal connection. They were also willing to laugh at themselves and change direction
when their methods were not effective. The art of teaching cannot be learned but it can be cultured. Teaching shapes
the future. The quality of teaching will determine the success of our society. We need to value our schools and
nurture good teachers. This will not happen without our help and so teachers must take an active role in this process.
We must advocate for our profession and embrace change. We must use effective technology to prepare our students
for the next century. We must learn from our failings and never lose hope.
The recent financial crisis has changed our economy forever. Downsized jobs and failed industries will not
return. During this time of historic lows we need to invest in our most important asset. We need to invest in ourselves.
The quality of the next generation will depend on the quality of our educational system. If I am selected as the
National Teacher of the Year I will share this award with all the hard working teachers across our country. I will
continue to be an active advocate for quality education and I will work tirelessly to inspire the students of our shared
future. Most importantly, I will show up in the classroom every August and on computers monitors around the world
ready to teach.
2011 National Teacher of the Year Finalist
Paul Andersen
Page 13
(Letter of Recommendation #1)
September 27, 2010 Council of Chief State School Officers One Massachusetts Ave. NW, Suite 700 Washington, DC 2001‐1431 To Whom This May Concern: It is our pleasure to write this recommendation for Paul Andersen for National Teacher of the Year. Paul is a remarkable educator who embodies 100% the characteristics of an exceptional advocate for students and best instructional practices. Paul has distinguished himself at Bozeman High School, in our district, and across the state with his first‐rate work, work ethic, intelligence, enthusiasm, communication style, inclusivity, and leadership abilities. He stimulates achievement and creativity in his students and with K‐12 educators. He has the ability to think broadly, ask questions, and to not be constrained by traditional practices when seeking solutions to problems. The term "vision" can be an often used cliché in the fields of education and business. Paul, however, is a visionary in the same class as Steve Jobs and Ted Sizer. Vision withers without passion to support others. Paul has the passion and specific set of abilities that allows him to support students and teachers, (and administrators, in fact), to move toward their personal visions of excellence. Mr. Andersen uses technology to support student engagement well beyond school hours and most of his students can be found logging on and interacting with course content well in to the evening and early morning hours. In spite of, or perhaps because of technology, Mr. Andersen is available for his students around the clock and throughout the 7‐day week. Teachers who have historically been intimidated even using e‐mail are now creating Moodle pages, wikis, and podcasts to support student engagement with their course content. Indeed, it was with Paul's leadership that the Bozeman Public Schools' Board of Trustees engaged in a mega‐issue discussion about technology and expanded the Cell Phone and Electronic Device policy to facilitate use of technology in the classroom. Link to and you will see podcasts created by Paul with over 280,000 views from Bozeman and around the globe. He instituted weekly "Tech Junkies” meetings at Bozeman High School for teachers and students who desired to learn more about technology and educational applications, and the group has grown from a mere handful to significant numbers at Bozeman High School. K‐8 teachers unable to leave their buildings during the day asked Paul to share his knowledge, and Paul has provided incredible professional development on early releases. Paul also spearheads a "District Tech Junkies” group that meets monthly after school that is open to all teachers in the Gallatian Valley. We could go on and on ‐his qualities are that extraordinary and that numerous. Paul is a shining educational star. Sincerely, Kirk J. Miller Ed.D., Superintendent Marilyn King Ed.D., Assistant Superintendent 2011 National Teacher of the Year Finalist
Paul Andersen
Page 14
(Letter of Recommendation #2)
September 27, 2010
Dear National Teacher of the Year Selection Committee,
It is with great pleasure that I recommend Paul Andersen for the National Teacher of the Year
Award. He is far and away the most worthy teacher for this award that I have personally been
associated with in my twenty years in education. Over the years, I have worked with and observed
many outstanding teachers, but to me Paul's abilities as an educator puts him above all of the
others. He is outstanding in every aspect of education, from what he does in his classroom to what
he does for students, teachers, and administrators in our building and State. In addition, Paul
understands that sharing what he knows is a professional obligation that all should endeavor to do
during their career. It is for these reasons that I urge you to award Paul Andersen National
Teacher of the Year.
In our building, Paul is the most requested teacher by parents wanting the best for their children.
His ability to make his subject interesting and fun, as well as rigorous, are strengths that few
teachers are able to master over an entire career. Paul has the unusual ability to do those things
on a daily basis, which makes him a highly successful teacher in our building. I am frequently
amazed by his ability to make connections with what he is teaching to something students can
relate to and better understand. It is my true belief that Paul's extraordinary intellect is matched
only by his ability to get ordinary people to understand the complex topics he teaches. He thinks
about each of his students and does all that is necessary to ensure that every one of them is given
the best opportunity to learn. He has the uncanny skill to connect with students who struggle as
well as those who achieve at high levels.
Our school and district also rely on Paul for the duties he performs with regards to technology. Not
only does he do all of the inventory and initial setup for every computer in our building, Paul also is
primarily responsible for initiating the organization of our school's Tech Junkies, a group that was
started to inspire teachers to effectively use technology in their classrooms. Tech Junkies meets
weekly and because of Paul's leadership, has changed the way our school and district think about
how teachers acquire and use technology. His belief that technology plays a critical role in
education is something that Paul shares not only with our own teachers but also across Montana
and the United States, where he has organized workshops and presented at national conferences.
Paul Andersen is an amazing educator and mentor to many. Because of his enthusiasm and
interest in using technology in the classroom, our school has changed many of the things we do.
Students and teachers now work closely together to develop and use the latest technologies
available. Without his leadership in the classroom and building, Bozeman High School would not
be the school it is today. Recognizing Paul's contributions to Bozeman High School and the field of
education by awarding him National Teacher of the Year is a decision you will never regret.
Ken Gibson,
2011 National Teacher of the Year Finalist
Paul Andersen
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(Letter of Recommendation #3)
Dear National Teacher of the Year Selection Committee,
It is my extreme honor and privilege to recommend my Bozeman High School colleague Paul Andersen for
National Teacher of the Year. He is undoubtedly the most talented and dynamic instructor at any level -that I have
encountered as a student or as a fellow teacher.
I have taught with Paul for nine years; my subjects include AP Biology and Anatomy and Physiology, and I
also teach A and P at Montana State University in an adjunct capacity.
Certainly, an individual teacher can have an incredible impact on his or her class. Beyond that, an individual
teacher can have a positive impact on his fellow teachers and school environment, even further, on the entire world. I
believe that Paul Andersen has had the single greatest impact on Bozeman High School of any teacher, and perhaps
of any person, in the past five years since he has taken over as the "tech guru" of BHS.
In the classroom, Paul always creates inspiring and stimulating lessons. I consistently detect the telltale signs
of active engagement from my adjacent office: students laughing, moving around the room, and sitting forward in their
seats. The enthusiasm is artfully channeled toward learning and achievement. The results on his students' AP Biology
tests speak for themselves: approximately 90% earn a score of 3 or better. I have talked to many of his former
students, including some of my students at the university, and the vast majority speak of the reverence they have for
him and how he inspired many of them to pursue a career in science or medicine.
I know of no one who takes the process of education as seriously as Paul. He truly believes that every lesson
can be improved and he is continuously driven to improve. He is never afraid of trying something new and daring, and
his critical analysis of the results allows him to further refine his teaching. His technological acumen allows him to
utilize the most current and effective methods for delivering instruction in an exciting and engaging manner.
Paul Andersen raises the bar for teachers at Bozeman High School. I credit him more than any other person
for challenging me to become the best teacher that I can be. Since we both teach AP Biology, we constantly bounce
ideas off each other to discover new ways of creating effective lessons. I point to the day Paul was hired at Bozeman
High as the true beginning of my education training.
I am not the only beneficiary of Paul's educational support. As the Technology Coordinator, he has introduced
the entire staff to the benefits and applications of technology in the classroom. His eternal patience in working with
teachers from a broad spectrum of computer aptitude has created a culture of learning among the faculty. He is the
leader of a group of teachers and students (carrying the moniker of "tech junkies") that voluntarily meet weekly during
our lunch period to discuss teaching and technology. The discussion is always stimulating and it is something I look
forward to each week. Although it is informal, I feel as though it is the most effective professional development activity
in which I have participated, and Paul is the reason it exists. I am sure the other attendees feel the same way.
Last year, Paul experimented with creating podcasts of the units in our AP Biology class. These to-ten minute
video presentations are broadcast on so that the students in our sections to can get a quick preview or review of the
main concepts covered in class. Paul has undertaken this monumental task on his own time outside of the school day,
which also reflects his passion for teaching. Since they are broadcast on the internet, any student in the world is free
to view the podcasts, and that is exactly what has happened. Some of them have over 30,000 views from places as far
away as China, Sweden, and Australia. The weekend before the AP Biology test, Paul figured that he 'lectured' over
2,000 hours to students across the globe. The comments that have been generated have been effusive in praise for
Paul's work. Many viewers have credited him with their understanding of biology. I invite you to take a look at a sample
of the podcasts and read what has been posted. (I have included a link at the bottom of this page!)
The world is full of teachers and most of them are good, some are excellent, and a precious few are as
influential as Paul Andersen. I am humbled that he chose me to write on his behalf, and I enthusiastically endorse his
candidacy for Montana Teacher of the Year.
Scott Taylor
Bozeman biology link YouTube link (endocrine system podcast):
2011 National Teacher of the Year Finalist
Paul Andersen
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