A fifth-grade teacher at Knik Elementary School has a knack for keeping his kids engaged.

In his fifth year at the head of the class, KTVA 11 Teacher of the Week winner Ronald Bowlan is relatively new to teaching.

Prior to commanding the classroom, he served 25 years in the U.S. Air Force as a chief master sergeant. As a base command chief, he was responsible to the base commander for the morale, discipline and welfare of up to 8,000 airmen and their families.

Although his squad is now a bit smaller, in stature and in size, Bowlan said his mission is still extremely important.

“This is my calling right here for the kids. I thrive on expecting success of those kids and the kids know whether you expect success or not,” Bowlan said.

Better known as “Mr. B,” his passion for teaching is evident to his students and peers. Before class he teaches the Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program (ANSEP). After school he heads the Homework Club on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Lunch breaks are dedicated to chess practice with the fourth- and fifth-graders as the team prepares for districts.

“We have been second three years in a row and we’re still chasing that mighty first, but we’ve been working hard at it,” Bowlan said of the chess competition.

Bowlan’s students work mighty hard for him too. Some have excelled in subjects they previously had difficulty learning, like math.

“Before the year I was below grade level and now I’m in the middle. I’m almost above. I’m doing really good in math because of him,” said fifth-grader Izaiah Maberry.

“To have a kid going from having no idea what you’re doing and by the end of a lesson, they understand exactly what you’re doing and they can manipulate the numbers down and sometimes do it two or three different ways and before they had no idea of the concept,” Bowlan said. “So, it’s great.”

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