Veteran Kennedy High teacher Ian Bader never gives up on his students, and his talent and boundless passion for his profession has kids in his classrooms looking forward to school.
Last weekend, the English teacher was named as a finalist for the 2015 Comcast SportsNet All-Star Teacher Award, which recognizes middle and high school teachers in Northern and Central California for extraordinary dedication to students in school and the community.
The winner of the contest, which was made possible by Provident Credit Union, is determined by votes from Bay Area residents. The community is encouraged to cast votes for Bader by visiting here or the Comcast SportsNet’s Facebook page, where you can click on the All-Star Teacher link. If he wins, Kennedy High gets $20,000. The voting period began Monday and runs through June 1.
Few people at Kennedy are surprised Bader is being recognized. Along with receiving several teaching awards in the past, he’s helped students receive scholarships to college and also organized a fundraiser so students could take the AP exam. The money that wasn’t raised came out his own pocket, according to Comcast SportsNet.
“He makes me want to come here,” student Francisco Ortiz said in a Comcast SportsNet video. “He makes me want to learn.”
Bader is one of a select few teachers on campus who dedicates time after school toward student enrichment. He founded the John F. Kennedy Rock Band for students who lack access to after-school enrichment activities. He reaches into his own pockets to buy musical equipment for the band and mentors and guides students after school.
He also directs annual Poetry Out-Loud competition and attends virtually every school event ranging from football games to the annual College and Career Night, helping to document activities by snapping photos and taking videos.
Before this year, Bader was the ACET (Architecture, Construction, Engineering, Technology) Academy lead on campus, and he still runs the “NEST” group (New Educators Success Team), assisting new teachers.
He started a creative writing class this year. On top of that, each Friday with seniors, Bader goes over a chapter of the book, “Philosophy for High School Students,” which students have raved about.
“Students love it and feel like they are talking about things that really matter to them, unlike the regular curriculum which centers on British Lit,” student Luisa Fuentes said. “For students burdened by a test-heavy schedule at a Title 1 school, this is a fresh breath giving us access to thoughts and ideas we have a true hunger for.”
Bader’s greatest strength is building rapport and trust with his students, said special ed teacher Sal Morabito.
“One never hears students being mad at Bader,” Morabito said. “You can never go into his room before or after school and not find students hanging out there.”
Though Bader has high expectations of his students, he “also acknowledges the external factors that [they] face that can get in the way of their studies,” student Joan Binalinbing said.
The all-star teacher routinely initiates conversations with students in order to redirect non-academic behaviors, Morabito added.
For Bader, the key driver of his success is quite simple.
“I don’t give up on anybody,” Bader said. “It’s just my nature.”