Apparently, the Lawrence school district doesn’t mind a bit of stubble.
On Wednesday morning, during a staff meeting at Lawrence High School, Superintendent Kyle Hayden surprised one unsuspecting LHS educator with the district’s 2017 Secondary Teacher of the Year Award.
“I would’ve shaved if I’d had any idea,” an “embarrassed” Jack Hood admitted moments after receiving the award — and a $1,000 check courtesy of Truity Credit Union.
His colleagues didn’t seem to mind, either, as they lined up, one by one, to offer hugs and congratulations to the freshly minted Secondary Teacher of the Year. Hayden on Wednesday praised Hood, who teaches history and economics, for his ability to forge relationships both in the classroom and out.
“It’s very obvious — and I’ve witnessed it — that he connects with a lot of people and a lot of students,” Hayden told the crowd gathered in the LHS band room Wednesday morning. And that ability, Hayden added, is “a big part” of what makes a truly great teacher.
Matt Brungardt, Hood’s principal at LHS, agreed. In his nomination of the teaching veteran, Brungardt praised Hood for his work ethic, generosity of spirit, compassion, care and dedication to his job. Hood, Brungardt wrote, is an educator “truly willing to do whatever it takes to help a student succeed.”
“Jack is truly an outstanding teacher whose passion and content knowledge brings the curriculum to life for his students,” Brungardt said in his nomination. “If you walk by Jack’s classroom in the afternoon you will often see him working with one of the many students he is helping to stay on track academically. He is willing to provide academic guidance and tutor any student who comes to his room for help.”
A member of Lawrence High School’s faculty since 2000, Hood has taught a variety of subjects at the school, including social studies, American history, political science and government, and geography.
Outside the classroom, he also coaches both the boys and girls track and field teams at LHS, and previously served as an assistant football coach. He was recently honored by the Kansas Cross Country Track and Field Coaches Association with its Class 6A Boys’ Coach of the Year Award, capping off the LHS boys’ track team’s second place win last year in the Sunflower League, at regionals and at state.
Hood, still stunned by his Teacher of the Year win Wednesday morning, said he felt “humbled” to receive the award in the presence of his colleagues, whom he called “some of the best teachers in the state.”
He wasn’t sure why he had been chosen out of so many deserving educators, he said. But for Hood, teaching isn’t about accolades. He’s sure of that. When asked about his favorite part of the job, Hood answered simply and without hesitation — it’s the kids, he said.
“Whether it’s coaching or teaching, you see that light bulb go when something clicks and when a kid gets something or understands something or experiences something,” Hood said. “Seventeen years I’ve done this (at LHS), 21 total, and it never gets old. It’s why you do what you do.”
Hood previously served as a paraeducator for two years at New York Elementary and Lawrence High School before becoming a teacher at LHS. He holds bachelor’s degrees from William Jewel College and the University of Kansas.
Lawrence Public Schools annually select an Elementary and Secondary Teacher of the Year. As the district’s secondary winner, Hood will be nominated to the Kansas State Department of Education’s Kansas Teacher of the Year program. Hayden honored Lisa Melton, a fifth-grade teacher at Sunflower Elementary School, with the elementary award last week.