LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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David Wagner

Position: Science Teacher
School: Merton Intermediate School
School District: Merton Community School District
City, State: Merton, WI

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David Wagner was nominated by multiple students. The following profile contains text from each nomination.

"For a long time, I didn't like science. I still don't like my science classes, but something was different about science in 7th and 8th grade. No, it wasn't the course. It was enjoyable because of one person: Mr. Wagner," said a student.

"Mr. Wagner was a relatively new teacher. My older brother's old science teacher retired four years ago so I couldn't ask my brother for once about a teacher. He talked about how excellent his science teacher was and that this teacher had high expectations that he won't live up to. Everyone who had Mr. Wagner would agree; he surpassed all expectations and what you can call a science class. He's a teacher who truly cared about his students, a teacher who everyone would have wanted growing up," said the student.

"His class never felt like a science class. We would listen to his records every class. They spanned all genres of music, even genres I wasn't familiar with because back then, I only listened to rap. He opened me to other genres, and today I still listen to rap, but I now listen to some indie, rock, pop, and EDM, along with others, because he exposed me to other genres. This helped me grow and become more willing to extend myself in places I wasn't familiar with," said the student.

"Every month, we would get into a big circle, not school related but to help us grow outside school. Mr. Wagner would have popsicle sticks with everyone's names, randomly draw one, then another person, and we would have to complement each other. The compliments couldn't be about their clothes or something like, 'You're nice.' They would have to be deeper, something you have always noticed about the person and never were willing to tell them. It's something so simple I wish other teachers would do. I looked forward to it, even though I was, and still am, nervous because it felt personal and made us get out of our comfort zone for once in school. It was a class away from the usual science work focused on us growing as people and making us more social, especially with how our society is today with face-to-face interactions," said the student.

"I don't like science classes and probably never will. High school science classes have been the worst. But Mr. Wagner changed everything for me in 7th and 8th grade. More than just a science teacher, he felt more like a friend, an adult you could trust, and it was the best to have a teacher like that," said the student.

"Ever since I was young, I've known that I loved the ocean and lakes. I loved fish, crabs, squid, and anything in the water. I learned I could have a career based on what I loved when I got to my 7th-grade science class. Mr. Wagner, the best teacher I have ever had, was the first person to inspire me. He encouraged me to become a marine biologist. Although I may not be going to school to become a marine biologist, I am following that passion and going to school to become an ichthyologist, which is a fish biologist," said another student.

"I remember on one of the first days of science class, he asked everyone what they wanted to do when they grew up. It felt so personal, and he genuinely cared about us. I am trying to remember what I said, but as the class went on, he would talk about different jobs related to science," said the student.

"He inspired me to work my hardest. I always needed help throughout school, but he would help me through my troubles. He would always ask if I needed any help, and even though I didn't like asking for help, I felt safe asking Mr. Wagner. He never judged anyone for not knowing something. Instead, he would use it as a learning opportunity to teach rather than judge," said the student.

"Out of every teacher I have ever had, Mr. Wagner has been the best teacher I could have ever asked for. He is the first teacher to make me want to learn, the first to make me excited to come to school. I am so glad I got to have him as my teacher because I wouldn't be the person I am today without him. Even though I will graduate this year and start a new chapter, I will never forget the man who changed my life for the better," said the student.

"Mr. Wagner is my favorite teacher I've ever had. He taught us everything about cells and energy, playing with dry ice, using microscopes, and making giant bottle rockets that we launched at the primary school. I liked it when Mr. Wagner taught us about the dry ice and how everything he would put in it, like the flower and the onion, would shatter over the floor. Or when Mr. Wagner would put the dry ice into the water, and the tables would be full of smoke from the dry ice," said another student.

"I also really liked the bottle rocket and energy labs, where he had an online simulator demonstrating how energy was transferred. Then we got to make the rockets in the classroom and learn how aerodynamics and weights would affect the rocket's flight and distance," said the student.

"I loved the trip to Washington DC at the end of 8th grade. We got to go around the state and see all the big buildings, the Pentagon, and other important places, museums, and restaurants. I liked how we got to see historical buildings and fields. Even the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was really cool. I also liked how we met new people from other schools before we all went to Arrowhead, so we knew some people from the trip going into Arrowhead," said the student.

"Throughout the years of being at Arrowhead, I've always hoped he would come to teach us in science and do the ways of teaching he had done for us at Merton...We were excited to walk into every class because of what he taught us. Every day, he would bring a record and put it on his record player for us to listen to for the first few minutes of class. Or when he would tell us his stories, like the one of the ghost haunting his room with the empty attic, but when he opened it, there was a recently lit cigarette. Then, when we had the rest of class for work time, he would play the rest of that record you started at the beginning of class. I don't know any other teacher that does that for students," said the student.