Spring Grove teacher makes an Impact


When Spring Grove Area High School physics teacher Brian Hastings was told he'd been named a WGAL 8 Teacher Impact Award winner, he was surprised to hear he'd even been nominated.

He later found out he had been nominated by five different people.

"It's a real honor," Hastings said of the award. "Sometimes, as a teacher, we don't really get to see the fruit of our labors because students graduate, so to be nominated and then actually earn this award is a great honor."

Hastings is one of five recipients of this year's award, which is in its 10th year honoring teachers in grades pre-K through 12 across the Susquehanna Valley who "have influenced students' lives both academically and personally," according to WGAL's press release.

The teachers will be recognized at a banquet on May 11 at the Sheraton Harrisburg Hershey Hotel.

A vignette featuring Hastings will be broadcast on WGAL's "News 8 at 5PM" on May 15.

The nominations: Hastings' nominations included three from students and two from colleagues.

One of the colleagues is Spring Grove Assistant Principal David Dietrich.

"He's very passionate about his subject," Dietrich said of Hastings.

"It's physics; it can be a scary subject for a lot of people. Every challenge that's come along, he's accepted, and our students are performing."

Dietrich said Hastings was an obvious choice for nomination because of how much time he had dedicated to his students outside of school through extracurricular programs.

One of those programs is the NASA Student Launch program, which took Hastings, co-adviser Renée Eaton and a team of seven students to Huntsville, Alabama, to launch their rocket to a height of at least 1 mile into the air and back down safely.

Spring Grove is one of just eight high school teams nationally to participate.

Their launch took place on April 11 and was broadcast through NASA's website.

Other activities: Hastings, who has spent his entire 19-year teaching career at Spring Grove, serves as primary adviser for several other extracurricular activities as well, including Team America Rocketry Challenge, Science Olympiad, Punkin Chunkin Challenge (the team launched a 10-pound pumpkin more than 100 yards last fall) and Physics Olympics.

"There's a two- or three-month stretch during the school year when something is happening with one of those teams every single weekend," Hastings said.

Dietrich added that what Hastings has been doing, particularly with the rocketry challenges, has been greatly publicized during the last few years, which has been advantageous for his school and its students.

"The networking that's taking place with various colleges and companies that are there, that is an amazing opportunity for our students and has really made a connection for them with colleges," Dietrich said.

WGAL received 320 nominations for the award, according to executive assistant Laura Warner.

Hastings, who has also taught physics at Johns Hopkins during the summer for the past 11 years, is the first Spring Grove teacher to win the award and ninth from a York area school.

York County's past winners:

2014: Sharon Bryant, West York School District

2013: Deborah Allen Wirth, Dover Area School District

2012: Marieceline Barton, Red Lion Area School District

2011: Cathy Horner, Lincoln Intermediate Unit #12 Preschool

2010: Patrick Good, Dallastown Area High School

2009: Debra R. Smith, Hanover Middle School

2008: Steven Schedin, Northeastern School District

2007: Joseph Opalenick, William Penn Senior High School