Being recognized at the national level for how I teach science is both humbling and validating. Humbling, as there are many amazing teachers that inspire our students daily, and validating, in that it takes a lot of extra time and commitment to do it well. I believe that this award carries importance for all teachers, that the work done by teachers is worthy of being recognized. This award is an inspiring celebration of excellence that highlights our country’s investment into future generations.

Krystal Irby Albuquerque, NM | 7-12, Science, 2017

The official biography below was current at the time of the award.

Krystal Irby, a 10-year science teacher, taught 11th-grade physics through project-based learning (PBL) at Nex+Gen Academy for the last four years. Before teaching at Nex+Gen, she taught eighth-grade physical science at McKinley Middle School. Her Yellow Light Project, a huge hit with her classes, has students choose a busy intersection in their neighborhood, complete a safety study using physics concepts, and present their recommendations to a panel of city traffic engineers. Relevance, a central tenet of PBL, is where Krystal likes to start. She has found that students are much more engaged in learning when they can identify the “why this matters to me” factor. Krystal is a co-advisor for the student council and the central district advisor for the New Mexico Association of Student Councils. In addition to teaching, Krystal has worked with several teacher networks, including the New Mexico Public Education Department, Discovery Educators’ Network, and the New Tech Network, to deliver professional development and share best practices in both science and technology. Krystal received her B.S. from Montana State University and is currently pursuing her M.S. in science teaching at New Mexico Tech. She holds a New Mexico teaching license in secondary science and mathematics. She is a National Board Certified Teacher in physics.