Uproarious cheering and applause broke out from Athens High School students and faculty Tuesday morning after an AHS teacher was selected as WTAP’s Golden Apple teacher of the month award for March.
Long-time AHS teacher Wayne Hanzel, who instructs wood shop, small motors classes and is branching into STEM-style education, represents the first teacher from Athens City School District to win the award.
Chad Springer, principal at AHS, who nominated Hanzel for the award, said Hanzel was a quintessential part of the Athens High School faculty.
“He has really revolutionized what we are doing when it comes to engineering, mathematics, and really reached out to kids,” Springer said. “I mean, we need to clone him.”
The award is presented each month by WTAP and Jan Dils law offices in Parkersburg to an outstanding educator in the Parkersburg area, Julia Maloney, of the station, said to the assembly in the gym.
He was given a plaque, a golden apple pin, and a golden apple face mask.
Hanzel, who has been teaching at AHS for 15 years, often engages in community focused education. Each spring, over 200 community members bring in lawn mowers and his students tune up the small engines.
During the coronavirus pandemic, Hanzel used the MakerSpace Lab to construct face masks for the Athens Police Department, and also spent seven weeks on his own time building plexiglass barriers for the school, Springer said. He manufactured almost 200 barriers.
Hanzel said encouraging students to want to serve the community is a goal of his.
“They get a lot of self-satisfaction and gratitude out of that community service type of work,” Hanzel said. “And they remember — they remember that. A lot of students would rather help someone else do something like that then doing their own project.”
Hanzel did not enter his professional career as a teacher. He began as a private sector employee in the industrial manufacturing field. He worked in Seattle for around 15 years, where he climbed to the role of sales manager.
Then, he and his wife decided to move back to Athens, where they both attended Ohio University when they were younger.
When he moved back to Athens, he tried to get a job at Ohio University, but the position he qualified for was not open. A friend of his suggested he begin substitute teaching.
That launched his career as an educator. He got his teaching certification after that.
“Having been in the manufacturing private sector, being able to take those experiences and give them to the students, I feel like that’s something I can give them that is very important to be successful,” Hanzel said.
There is one piece of advice that Hanzel would give to other teachers: get to know your students. As the assembly filed out of the gym, many students approached him to high-five him or give him words of congratulation.
“Try to get to know your kids — all of them — all of them across the board, no matter what,” Hanzel said. “You don’t know what their situation is or where they come from.”
If you have a teacher in Athens County you would like to nominate, visit the Jan Dils Golden Apple section of WTAP.com.