Pepper Rynio-Brandt Named SCSD No. 2 Teacher of the Year

Pepper Rynio-Brandt Named SCSD No. 2 Teacher of the Year

GRHS English teacher Pepper Rynio-Brandt is recognized by the SCSD No. 2 Board of Trustees Tuesday night. From left to right: Tom Wilson, David Young, Steve Core, Pepper Rynio-Brandt, Daniel Flom, Mark Sanders, Ashley Castillon, and Brenda Roosa. SweetwaterNOW photo

GREEN RIVER — Green River High School English teacher Pepper Rynio-Brandt was named the Sweetwater County School District No. 2 Teacher of the Year at the Board of Trustees meeting Tuesday night.

Rynio-Brandt graduated from the University of Wyoming in 1989 with a degree in English Education, and she soon started her 34 year long and counting, teaching career at Green River High School. She said she has been working to improve her craft ever since she started teaching, and she still shows that dedication to the classroom three decades later.

Assistant Superintendent, Jason Fuss, said that GRHS did a study on relationship trends in the high school, and Rynio-Brandt was cited the most times as the most trustworthy teacher among students. Additionally, he said year in and year out she has posted some of the highest achievement results, not only in Sweetwater County, but in the state of Wyoming for PAWS and WYTOPP testing for English and Literature.

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“It can be done, social emotional learning,” Fuss said. “[There’s] probably not a more worthy person for this honor.”

Rynio-Brandt was among 10 other finalists for teacher of the year, that was narrowed down from a pool of 40 nominees. She said she is not surprised by the large list of nominees, as the school district is full of great teachers.

“This year, the sizable field of teacher of the year nominees is not surprising. We have fabulous teachers throughout our district, and guarantee, every teacher in Green River is some child’s teacher of the year,” she said.

She addressed each of her fellow nominees, giving credit for the work they do for their students. To Annie Mast, Truman Elementary School, Mary Kelsch, McKinnon Elementary School, and Denise Clingenpeel, Washington Elementary School, she said: “Without the solid foundation they build, nothing else matters.”

To Malcolm Robb and Bridgette Nielsen, both of Lincoln Middle School, and Andy Trumble, of Expedition Academy and formerly of LMS, she said: “Your passion for teaching lives on in the memories of your former students.”

To her fellow GRHS teachers Liz Thoman, Shane Steiss, and Victoria Hemphill, she said, “it is an honor to know you and work with you all.”

Rynio-Brandt has carried a passion for teaching with her throughout her entire career, and it has been the driving force behind her dedication to the students. After 34 years, she said her love for teaching has remained unchanged.

“In the 1980s when I began teaching, I loved this work so much I would have done it for free. Teaching was so much fun and so rewarding that I knew I had hit the jackpot of careers. I don’t feel any differently today,” she said. “My passion for teaching remains.”