BBHHS teacher named Educator of the Year

by Dan Holland

Dan Reynolds, an advanced placement biology and environmental sciences teacher at Brecksville-Broadview Heights High School, was has recently been honored as the recipient of the 2022 Ruth Skuly Educator of the Year Award from the Cuyahoga Soil and Water Conservation District for excellence in and out of the classroom.

Reynolds, who lives in Brecksville with wife Allison – also a teacher at BBHHS – and their two daughters, is currently in his 17th year of teaching in the district. He began teaching environmental studies classes 11 years ago.

“Initially, it was to get kids more involved in environmental studies seeing a need for that,” said Reynolds. “Of all the course work they do in high school, there are certain things they will forget, and there are other things that are pertinent to their everyday lives regardless of what career they go into. The more they learn about the environment, the more apt they are to get involved with it and tell their friends and parents to promote recycling, driving less, or promote various things that aren’t hard to do.”

The award was based in part on the success of the five-student Envirothon team Reynolds fields each year. He explained that out of 50-plus teams from the Northeast Ohio region, only the top four teams move onto the state competition. His team finished fourth overall in the state in 2019 and posted an eleventh-place finish in 2022.

”Every year, we’re one of the only teams from the county that ends up sending a team to states,” said Reynolds. “Generally, the kids I have on the team are seniors, so I have to form a new team each year. Typically, I take kids who are really interested in environmental studies. There are prizes; they give cash awards depending on where you finish, and they also award scholarship money.”

The teaching award was presented Nov. 10 during the CSWCD annual meeting held at the Broadview Heights Community Center. Reynolds was notified via email that he had won the award.

“Dan has been very devoted since 2018, which was the year that we hosted Envirothon in Cuyahoga County,” said Jacki Zevenbergen, stormwater education program manager for CSWCD. “He has been diligent about putting a team together year-after-year, which is no easy thing to do. Also, the fact that he stuck with it in doing it virtually for two years – in 2020 and 2021 – and got his kids to stick with it.

“It’s hard for the teachers to get the kids together who want to do the work, because it’s a lot of work to be in Envirothon,” she added. “He’s been a really good partner with Envirothon in advising the team and keeping the team organized with some alternates on the roster each year.”

“It was cool to find out about it and go to the banquet, as I was able to bring my wife and daughters,” said Reynolds. “It’s always nice to be recognized for things that you do with something like this, as I try to get the kids motivated about environmental studies.”

Reynolds, who is also the BBHHS varsity tennis coach for both the boys and girls teams, said one of the most rewarding aspects of his profession is in hearing back from former students who were inspired by him to pursue career paths in environmental-related fields.

“Once they graduate, one of the cool things is to hear back from students about how much they appreciate what I did for them,” said Reynolds. “I’m more old school in that I want them to have a strong work ethic since it makes it easier for them in college; if they experience it now as opposed to finding out how hard they have to work in college. Just hearing back from kids who have graduated and are now in environmental careers and having them come in and talk to my current students about opportunities is very rewarding.” ∞

Cuyahoga Soil and Water Conservation District employees
Demar Sheffey, Kristin Hall and Jacki Zevenbergen present the
2022 Ruth Skuly Educator of the Year Award to Brecksville-
Broadview Heights High School teacher Dan Reynolds. Photo