In early August, the National Association of Biology Teachers (NABT) announced that Upper School science teacher Barry Ide received the 2020 Outstanding Biology Teacher Award (OBTA) for Texas.
For about 20 years, Ide has taught the course Advanced Placement (AP) Biology at Greenhill, bringing science to life for his students through his curiosity for processes that govern living organisms and natural phenomena. Ide was recently honored for his passion with the OBTA for the state of Texas. This award, given annually, attempts to recognize an outstanding biology educator in each of the 50 states.
“I’ve always wanted to be a biology teacher, and so it’s important to me because it’s validation,” Ide said. “Not a lot of people actually see me do what I do, and so it’s a little bit of validation that I do it well and enough that some people think it deserves to be recognized.”
Candidates for the award must have at least three years of public, private or parochial (relating to a church) school teaching experience. Also, candidates are judged on their teaching ability and experience, cooperativeness in the school and community as well as student-teacher relationships, according to NABT.
Ide was nominated for the award by an unknown individual at NABT and went through an application process, submitting materials about his teaching practice and philosophy to NABT.
“I didn’t hear anything until about mid-July when I got a phone call from a friend of mine, who is a retired AP Biology teacher from Fort Worth, telling me that I had got this award,” Ide said.
OBTA recipients are given an Honors Luncheon held at the NABT Development Conference. However, this event has since been canceled due to the novel Covid-19 pandemic.
Coming from a family of teachers, Ide always knew he wanted to be a teacher growing up. However, it wasn’t until high school when Ide was motivated to specialize in the field of biology.
“I always had a love for nature, and I’ve always been pretty rational and evidence-based,” Ide said. “But I think it was in 10th grade that I decided I wanted to be a biology teacher and then, I took AP Biology as a junior in high school, and then I left high school early and did research on a sailing ship for several months.”
Several of Ide’s former students affirm that his recognition for excellence in teaching biology is well-deserved as he has proven to be intellectually curious about the natural world.
“Mr. Ide is unlike any other teacher I have had,” said senior Jung Min Yean. “He helped me visualize the concepts of biological processes by being extremely thorough in his explanations, and he was always prepared to answer the questions we threw at him.”
Junior Jack Vawrinek agrees.
“I think Mr. Ide was a great teacher because he went over everything in depth, and in several ways,” Vawrinek said. “He made the class very challenging, but it was also very rewarding and it made me more diligent.”
In addition, former students highlight Ide’s willingness and care for each student’s individual growth and success in his class.
“There is no doubt about it: Ide knows how to put his students first,” Michael Meng ‘14 said. “He was easily accessible and willing to take the time to help me master concepts I was struggling with. This made me more confident going forward.”
Ide re-shared the award announcement on his personal Facebook page and was overwhelmed with the amount of praise he received from students, colleagues and friends.
“I teach [biology] because I enjoy it. I teach it because I love my students,” Ide said. “And hearing those words of congratulations from my former students, even students back from like 2004, is really, really great.”