His ability to get along with students helped avert further tragedy during January 10 shooting

      Taft High science teacher Ryan Heber has been nominated by his peers to represent the school in the Kern County Teacher of the Year competition sponsored by the Kern County Superintendent of Schools Office.
The popular teacher said he was totally surprised and honored that fellow teachers nominated him. “It (the nomination) was really nice.”
    Claude Bradford, president of the TUHS teachers’ association, praised: “Ryan Heber exemplifies a student-involved teacher. He is well liked by students for his positive attitude and by encouraging all students to do their best academically and athletically. Ryan's selection by the district's faculty is well deserved.”
Principal Marilyn Brown added, “Ryan’s most outstanding classroom characteristic … is that he understands how important it is to connect with and show an interest in his students in order to engage them in the learning process. He creates a caring learning environment where all students are valued no matter their backgrounds or interests.”
       The standout science teacher is respected as a teacher adept at establishing good rapport with his students. “I try to create relationships (with students) along the way because it’s all we’ve got. I’ve always enjoyed my job because I feel like I’m coming to hang out with friends,” he said.
      The good will he creates with students was especially important on the morning of Jan. 10 when he helped talk an alleged student shooter into setting down his shotgun.
Heber said what he learned from the tragedy is: “I just think people need to be a little nicer to each other and recognize that everybody is looking for some kindness in their life. It’s important to create relationships with people and get to know them, make their lives a little easier.”
    The son of retired Taft High English teacher Carol Sue Heber, he is a 1991 TUHS graduate. In high school, Heber was the ASB president, the football center and a member of the Key Club. This is his ninth year as a teacher, all at Taft High.
He graduated from Taft College, earned his BS in physical science and his teaching credential at Brigham Young University, and his master’s in education in curriculum and development at California State University, Bakersfield.
He worked in health clubs in Utah previously. He was an area director for Gold’s Gym for eight years and is working on his administrative credential because he is considering moving into school administration. Besides weight lifting, he enjoys skiing, biking and riding motorcycles. He and his wife of nine years, Emmy Lou, who is an accounting analyst in the business office at Taft High, have two sons, Brock, 5, and Ty, 3.
    The county winner, announced in Bakersfield this spring, is eligible to compete in the state finals. The state winner will go on to nationals. Traditionally, the national winner spends a year traveling the United States as an inspirational speaker.