Steve Hall is a nominee for the 2018 Alaska Teacher of the Year. He’s a high school science teacher at Houston High School. (Photo by Wesley Early, Alaska Public Media – Anchorage)The State Department of Education will pick Alaska’s teacher of the year next month.This week we’ll have profiles of each of the five finalists, from across the state.Steve Hall is a math and science teacher at the high school in the Mat-Su town of Houston. Hall’s style of teaching emphasizes a lot of hands-on learning.Listen nowGrowing up in small-town Wisconsin, Hall joked that one of the few ways to apply science in the area was to be a veterinarian working with dairy farmers. His passion for science was always a little different.“I just was really good at it and enjoyed it a lot,” Hall said. “I’ve got a couple uncles that were, if you will, rocket scientists for 3M, and so I think I just got predisposed to that kind of field.”Hall says he found his calling as a teacher when he was in the army, where he learned just how valuable effective teaching could be.“There was a grenade safety course that was being taught by a sergeant, and he forgot to mention the secondary safety pin,” Hall said. “And so, he got dropped for push-ups, and I thought, ‘If I ever have to teach something like that, I’m gonna have a diagram or something.’ And so, sure enough, I had to teach that course, and I had my diagram. I really enjoyed that.”After his service, Hall went to college for his teaching degree and taught for five years near his hometown. But after budget and staffing cuts, he started looking for a job somewhere else. His wife’s sisters had settled down in Houston, Alaska and suggested he apply for jobs there. He says when he got to Houston in 2003, he knew it was the place for him.“Oh, I loved it. The hunting, the fishing,” Hall said. “I said to my mother-in-law, ‘I’m home now.’”When Hall first arrived in the Valley, he taught at Palmer Junior High, but was soon hired at the brand new Houston High School.The Department of Education highlighted Hall’s extensive use of labs in his lessons as one of the reasons he was selected as a Teacher of the Year nominee. Hall says these activities help his students see where chemistry fits into their everyday lives.“We talk about what things are going on around the house,” Hall said. “So if you’re mixing oil and gas, and you have to go 50-50, why do they mix? So you can talk about solubility of different liquids. Same with antifreeze, stuff like that. We also make ice cream, so we can make it fun — food science.”Hall is also a strong advocate for making sure every student in his classes is actively involved in the coursework. He teaches kids at a variety of levels, from his beginner classes to his Advance Placement courses, and he pushes all of them to work to their potential.“What I’ll do when we’re doing an activity is get all the kids to participate, to learn it,” Hall said. “I’m like, ‘You’re not walking through that door ’til you know XYZ. And then, once they see that success, they keep working at it, so they can understand it. And then you get the application.”Hall has been teaching for over 20 years, so long in fact, that a former student of his now teaches biology at Houston High.“It’s good. It makes me feel a little old, but that’s alright,” Hall said.Between his work with the recently started AP Chemistry class, to his technology-infused inquiry labs, Hall says he’s happy when his students go out into the world contributing to society and understanding the importance of science in everyday life.
Former Cardinals kicker Phil Dawson retires GLENDALE, Ariz. — Justin Bethel was about to answer some questions when Brandon Williams, who had walked into the locker room with him, sarcastically, chimed in with some of his own.“How do you think you’re doing in the battle between you and Brandon Williams,” he asked. “Do you think you’re leading him or he’s leading you?”Williams added he was ready to go on and conduct the interview, at which point featured a laughing Bethel. “The best thing with him, when he gives up a play right now he just comes back and goes to the next one — it used to bother him, now it doesn’t,” Arians said. “He’s learning to get amnesia.”That Bethel is playing well now may not come as a total shock, especially given how he finished the 2016 season. In Weeks 16 and 17 against the Seahawks and Rams, respectively, he collected four passes defensed as well as one interception, which he returned 66 yards for a touchdown.Yet, there was and is still plenty of uncertainty surrounding Bethel, which is why his contract was changed over the offseason to pay him less money but shorten it by one year, meaning he will be a free agent at the end of this upcoming season.Hence, the competition with Williams.“I don’t look at it as a competition,” Williams said. “I look at it as he does his job, I do my job, and we both go out there and dominate.”“I think we’ve both been working really hard in the offseason and I think it’s just one of those things where we both know our skillset and we’re going to just go out there and play the best that we can,” Bethel added. While their competition is serious — and, arguably, the most important with regards to the team’s chances in 2017 — the exchange underscored not only the players’ friendship, but also their confidence.Both Bethel, now entering his sixth season, and Williams, who is beginning his second, believe they have what it takes to play opposite six-time Pro Bowler and three-time All-Pro Patrick Peterson.Williams emerged as the starter out of training camp as a rookie, only to falter some before being supplanted by veteran Marcus Cooper. With Cooper now in Chicago, the job is again available, though at the end of the team’s mini-camp head coach Bruce Arians proclaimed it was Bethel who had the early lead.It helps that Bethel, who has battled foot and ankle problems for the better part of the last two seasons, is finally healthy.“It feels great,” he said. “You don’t realize how much you miss it until you can’t do it, and so being able to train this offseason and be able to prepare for this training camp and be able to look forward to going into the season healthy (and) being able to play, it’s a great feeling.”On Monday, he intercepted a pass while batting away a couple others, and Tuesday Arians said Bethel has had good days every day in camp. “At the end of the day let the coaches do what they want to do, and just know that either way both of us need to be prepared to start at any time.”The best-case scenario for the Cardinals would of course be having both players step up and prove worthy of a starting role. Since Arians took over in 2013, the team has seen Jerraud Powers, Antonio Cromartie, Bethel, Cooper and Williams all get time opposite Peterson, and before that, William Gay, Greg Toler, Richard Marshall and A.J. Jefferson were part of the revolving door.“Both of them look good,” Peterson said of Bethel and Williams. “Justin is playing at a high level right now; the biggest thing for Brandon is just growing that confidence.”Peterson said Williams has been a sponge around him, and spent much of the offseason working out alongside him. Williams, who said the biggest change for him from a year ago is on the mental side of the game, said Peterson is the top cornerback in the league.“His technique is what makes him the best, so when you have a technician like that on your team, being a young guy, you can learn a lot from him,” he said.It is rare for teams to have multiple shut-down corners; but then again, the Cardinals have had their share of swings and misses looking for a second. Peterson praised the work both of this year’s top candidates have put in. Derrick Hall satisfied with D-backs’ buying and selling 2 Comments Share Grace expects Greinke trade to have emotional impact “It’s a general thing,” he said of being healthy now. “I’m not worried about it; certain things, I feel faster, I feel like my same speed again. I don’t worry about it.“When I’m out there playing, I’m not thinking, ‘OK if I do this I know it’s going to hurt’ and I think I just, I don’t know, I’m just happy to be healthy.”Follow Adam Green on Twitter – / 14 “We’re going to need somebody to step up, and I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure that these guys are ready,” he said. “But so far, Brandon and Justin are looking very, very good.“It’s a heated battle, and it’s definitely going to come down to the wire.”It also may be adding a contender.A report came out Monday that the Cardinals were set to work out veteran corner Brandon Flowers, who was a Pro Bowler in 2013 but has battled injury, most recently concussions. Arians said the team will indeed take a look at him Wednesday because he is a good player who happens to be available.“You’re going to see some guys coming in here real fast to build this roster, just in case,” Arians said. “Either young guys haven’t performed well enough and there are so many good veterans on the street, that you want to have guys ready to go.”The Cardinals may ultimately sign the 31-year-old, who has 21 career interceptions over nine seasons with the Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs.Until then — and, perhaps, even if they do — the job is still up for grabs. Bethel said he certainly feels like it is his, though he noted that is how he is supposed to feel. He added he had a similar thought last season before injuries took their toll. Top Stories The 5: Takeaways from the Coyotes’ introduction of Alex Meruelo Arizona Cardinals defensive back Justin Bethel (28) breaks up a pass intended for receiver John Brown, left, during an NFL football training camp Monday, July 24, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)