Local Teacher Receives National Award

<p>Brian Sites</p>

Brian Sites

It's American Education Week and one local Richland teacher will head to our nation's capitol in February to receive award for teaching excellence.

Brian Sites has been an independent learning teacher focusing on math and social studies at Rivers Edge High School in Richland for 10 years.

Working one on one with students who need flexibility in their schedule based on challenging personal lives, sites makes the kids a priority.

"I get a lot of time one on one to get to know the kids and their stories and really become their advocate but also at the same time sit side by side and work a math problem with them and help them through the academic stuff as well," said Sites.

Sites is 1 of 5 teachers across the nation to receive the 2014 Horace Mann Award for Teaching Excellence, named after a 19th century American education reformist

Sites will head to Washington, D.C. in February, where the National Education Association will present him with the honor along with a $10,000 prize.

Sites' students said based on their experience with him, he deserves this big honor.

"He helps me with geometry a lot and shows me and works through problems with me when I'm struggling," said Payton Reyes, a student of Sites. "He'll walk you through step by step and helps you every way possible."

"Instead of getting frustrated easily he'll talk to you one on one and not really get distracted and when you're talking to him it's your time and not really anybody else's," said Chelsea Gardener, another one of Sites' students. 

Sites wrote a short book called, "Who's Teaching Who?" based on his teaching philosophy.

"In our society we've become so focused on test scores and looking at data but those sift skills those things like bouncing back when the going gets tough and how to show kids the right way to respond when things arent going their way to not let them give up on themselves," said Sites.

Sites' wife nominated him the award.

He then interviewed in D.C. and advanced based on a mock teaching lesson he conducted in the front of the judges.

Sites could win an additional $25,000 if he is named the best of the 5 finalists.