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Vail educator is finalist for UArizona Teacher of the year Award

Mica Mountain High School math teacher Matt Penland is one of nine finalists for the Arizona Athletics Teacher of the Year Award.
Posted at 7:01 AM, Feb 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-28 18:11:27-05

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Arizona Athletics and KGUN 9 are proud to present the nominees for the teacher of the year award.

Matt Penland of Mica Mountain High School in Vail is one of the nine finalists.

"I love math," said Penland. "I know that sounds kind of weird to a lot of people, but really like teaching math."

Penland has been an educator for 18 years, including a stint as a principal. Now, he teaches geometry and algebra at Mica Mountain.

Penland also coaches track, cross country and soccer. He also sponsors several clubs at the high school.

"That part, building relationship with kids outside of the classroom, when they come into the classroom they know you're not just here to give them homework and make sure they're taking tests and things like that," explained Penland. "They kind of want to work for you because they see there's other things besides the geometry or the algebra."

Penland says it's not just about students solving equations, it's also about building character.

"When they leave in May, they're better people," Penland said. "To me that's really, really important that they learn some skills about how to be good people not just the geometry."

Penland is proud to be a finalist for the Arizona Athletics Teacher of the Year Award. He credits his students, while acknowledging those long days as teacher and coach are paying off.

"I was excited, because you put in a lot of hours sometimes. It's good to be recognized for those hours. It was cool."

He is one of nine finalist for the Arizona Athletics Teacher of the Year Award. The winner will be announced March 5.

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Pat Parris is an anchor and reporter for KGUN 9. He is a graduate of Sabino High School where he was the 1982 high school state track champion in the 800 meters. While in high school and college, he worked part-time in the KGUN 9 newsroom. His father, Jack Parris, is a former general manager of the station. Share your story ideas and important issues with Pat by emailing pat.parris@kgun9.com or by connecting on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.