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Empire teacher is the focus of teacher of the year award

Empire High School teacher Shaun Roby is the focus of the Outstanding High School Faculty Award. A photography and yearbook teacher, Roby is one of nine finalists.
Posted at 6:43 AM, Feb 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-25 08:43:28-05

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Arizona Athletics and KGUN 9 are proud to once again present the nominees for the University of Arizona Online Outstanding High School Faculty Award.

One of the finalists is a teacher at Empire High School in Vail. His career came into focus after starting his own business.

"Sometimes, you want to get closer to the subject so that you can really see the details," Shaun Roby explained to a student.

Roby is very detail oriented. Although he never expected to be teaching his techniques to high school students.

"I ended up really becoming a photographer and starting my own business as an entrepreneur," Roby said.

Roby still operates SunStreet Photo on Speedway in Tucson.

Empire High School teacher Shaun Roby, a finalist for the Outstanding High School Faculty Award.

It was when he started teaching photography through adult education classes, that he realized he would follow in the footsteps of his parents.

"My parents are both teachers and so I started teaching these community classes to people. I go wow, I really enjoy doing this and inspiring people to get out and take great photos."

That led Roby to a teaching job at Empire High School.

Seven years later, he's been named a finalist for the Outstanding High School Faculty Award.

Empire High School teacher Shaun Roby, a finalist for the Outstanding High School Faculty Award.

"That's fantastic, it's nice to be recognized for the work that you put in. I do it because I love teaching, but it's also nice to be rewarded for your hard work."

Roby says his teaching style sets up his students for success when they get out in the real world.

"What I try to do is I try to teach the kids things that I wish I had learned in school. Things that I had to learn the hard way when I started my business."

Now Roby is dealing with the challenges of teaching photography and yearbook under Vail's hybrid model. Some students are in the classroom while others are remote.

"This year I've really focused more on lighting and composition and things that they can use their cell phones if they're at home, and they don't have access to nice, fancy cameras. And still get all of those photography skills, but not have to be on campus."

Roby says during the pandemic, he misses the connections he usually makes with the students.

"That's the challenge is just how can I connect with kids, because that's my favorite part about teaching is learning about them and what they're into. Just being genuinely interested in there story. That's been the biggest challenge this year with the pandemic."

Roby is one of nine finalist for the outstanding high school faculty award. The winner will be announced in early March.