Dr. Rick Kaht, who has 20 years of experience as an educator that includes 15 in Cobb — 13 at Dickerson — was surprised with the district wide honor during a ceremony Thursday afternoon at the school.
“I’m really honored and humbled,” the stunned seventh-grade life science teacher said. “I couldn’t have done this without the help of the staff around me and my team. We have the best students in the world, so it makes it easy.”
Dickerson teachers and students caught a shocked Kaht off-guard with the recognition in the school’s auditorium, celebrating the honor with pom poms, a banner, a marching band, a trash can band and numerous representatives from the district office, including Superintendent Dr. Michael Hinojosa.
“The thing that really stands out about Dr. Rick Kaht as a classroom teacher is that he loves what he does, and it shows when you walk into his classroom,” Dickerson Principal Dr. Carole Brink said. “When you walk in the classroom, the kids are engaged in what they are learning.”
Brink said she has been privileged to work with Kaht for the last six years.
“He loves life and life loves him. He’s an awesome, all-around great guy who is an outstanding teacher,” she added. “(Kaht) represents the best of the best. He’s an outstanding representative of not only the Dickerson community but the Cobb County School District.”
After the ceremony, three of Kaht’s current students — Bailey Post, Elexis Ramsey and Adam Lenhard — said they were all very happy that their teacher received the district-wide honor.
Post, who said science hasn’t always been her best subject, said Kaht has made science easier and more fun for her.
Ramsey agreed with Post, saying, “Dr. Kaht is super funny but serious when it comes to tests and studying. He’s probably one of the best science teachers I’ve ever had.”
Lenhard, who said his fourth period teacher deserved the honor and should be named the national teacher of the year.
“He’s strict but also really fun, and he tells us a lot of random stories, which I think are a lot of fun,” he said.
Kaht said the secret to keeping the attention of middle school students and enjoying a profession for two decades like he has is to always love what you do.
“I still find science incredibly fun, and I like to play and that’s what you’re doing, playing with the kids with these great ideas and maybe along the way they learn something, but at least they get excited about science,” he said. “I’m not trying to make little Einsteins, but I want something that is going to be fun and exciting.”
Additionally, he said that he knew as a middle school student himself in seventh grade that he wanted to be a teacher when he grew up.
“I just had such a great experience and had wonderful experiences all the way through,” he said. “I had a high school chemistry and physics teacher that inspired me and made me love science,” he said.
Lastly, Kaht said he’s proud to bring this recognition to the Dickerson staff, students and school community.
“I have such an elevated experience, and the support we get from parents and the faculty,” he said. “I like to tell people and show them why I am so proud to represent this school.”
Kaht will unveil his 2012 Teacher of the Year handprint during the annual Cobb Chamber of Commerce “Give Our Schools a Hand” ceremony Oct. 3 at Glover Park on the Marietta Square.