Newport High teacher wins regional award

Newport High School teacher Brian Hanna and Principal Reyna Mattson stand by “The Rock” on the northwest corner of the NHS campus. Hanna is the 2021 teacher of the year for the region that includes Linn, Benton and Lincoln counties. Mattson nominated him for the award. (Photo by Kenneth Lipp)

NEWPORT — On Tuesday, Newport High School mathematics teacher Brian Hanna was named Linn Benton Lincoln’s 2021 Regional Teacher of the Year.

Hanna has spent his entire career in the Lincoln Country School District, even student-teaching at Newport High School. He taught at Waldport for three years before returning to the Cubs, where’s he’s now been for just over 20 years teaching math and science, as well as computer science for the past few years. He also sent three of his own kids through Lincoln County schools, and two more will graduate next year.

The math teacher is among 18 regional winners who received $500 cash prizes through the Oregon Lottery. They’ll now be considered for statewide teacher of the year, which will be announced this fall. That award comes with a $5,000 prize, with a matching amount to the winner’s school, and three finalists and their schools will win $2,000.

Hanna said, “I’ve had wonderful colleagues throughout the years, and particularly, in the past few years, I’ve had excellent administrators. They have a pretty thankless job, but they have done a great job supporting me and allowing me to explore new possibilities for teaching. Anytime I’ve felt I needed to get training to increase my skillset, they’ve always been really supportive.”

He was nominated for the award by Newport High Principal Reyna Mattson, who called him a “standout even amongst other gifted teachers.” Mattson said, “His ability to create a safe environment for students to learn math, a subject that often comes with fear for students, allows them to be vulnerable, curious and confident as they successfully navigate difficult concepts. He is kind, cheerful and thoughtful, and he makes our students feel valued and capable.”

Hanna said his greatest source of professional satisfaction is when students make independent discoveries about the power of the subject matter. “The thing that I really enjoy is seeing when a kid takes what I’ve taught them and then runs with it — takes it beyond what we’ve done in class. That tells me I’ve done a good job to inspire them to see math and science for more than what they thought it was before,” he said.

The Newport math instructor is no stranger to recognition in his field. He was district teacher of the year in 2010 and, in 2016, he was selected to receive a Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.

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