For science teacher Ryan Burgard, there is no magic when it comes to learning: no wand to wave, no abracadabra to summon success. His philosophy is simple: if you want to learn, he can teach.
This mantra helped him earn the University Interscholastic League (UIL) Sponsor Excellence Award. Burgard was recognized by UIL Executive Director Dr. Charles Breithaupt and Academic Director Dr. David Stevens for his contributions to academic competition. During a campus-wide reception at Thrall High School on
Jan. 10, current and former students shared how Burgard impacted their lives.
“Being on the science team has influenced me in more ways than I can describe,” said senior Kaylee Jackson. “Not only have I discovered my love of learning, I discovered a new knack for memorizing and applying scientific knowledge to our world as well as the importance of teamwork, leadership and problem-solving skills.”
Burgard led the Thrall science team to the UIL state championships four times in five years, winning state titles in 2017 and 2019. In addition to coaching, Burgard verifies scores, clears calculators and helps with the behind-the-scenes work at UIL meets.
“Mr. Burgard obviously has sponsored many events and has been extremely successful in science, but he also wrote an incredible essay regarding his philosophy of competition. That certainly made him stand out,” Stevens said.
Thrall Principal Travis Dube said before Burgard began teaching at Thrall, encouraging students to dedicate their Saturdays to academic UIL invitationals was difficult. Burgard’s magnetic personality and enthusiasm now attracts a bus-full.
“There is no way to describe the positive impact that he has had on not just the UIL program here at Thrall, but the culture of our school,” Dube, said. “Our student body and community expect to be competitive in anything that we set out to do, and Mr. Burgard puts our students in a place to do just that. Winning has become our expectation in and out of the classroom.”
Although Burgard is more comfortable in the classroom than in front of a crowd, he appreciated the assembly and enjoyed seeing his former students.
“I was very humbled when I found out I’d won,” the honoree said.