Growing up, a young Brandon Buck was influenced by his U.S. history teacher, who also happened to be a football and baseball coach at his high school.
"I just kind of bonded with him," Buck said. "He was a younger guy, and I still talk to him about once a month, once every two months. He was a big influence on me, so I guess that's a good role model early on."
Now Buck, who was named "Ahwatukee's Best Teacher," is a U.S. history teacher at Mountain Pointe and the school's head varsity baseball and head JV football coach.
He led the Pride to only the second state baseball semifinal appearance in school history last season, has been at Mountain Pointe for seven years. He has spent the past two teaching AP U.S. history.
"The type of kids that you're working with, these are kids that want to be there," Buck said. "They chose to sign up for your class and so with that comes that ability to push them a little bit harder.
"When they learn something about history that maybe they haven't been taught before, because of their age, it's always exciting to see the look on their face and really watch them improve as far as their writing and how they perceive history or have them try to defend history with logical points," he added. "Because they can have any view of it as they want, but as long as they're able to defend it, then that's OK."
Buck said the part he enjoys most about teaching high school students is the ability to go further in depth into history with them.
"You can just talk more things, you can get into 'real history'-type stuff," Buck said. "When you're talking about slavery and what we did to the Native Americans and the Holocaust, you don't really have to worry so much about scarring these kids, but it's really more opening their eyes as to what actually happened and things like that, so I really enjoy that part of it."
2nd place: Amy Lecky, Summit School
3rd place: Fran Gill, Village Preschool