This spring, University of Arizona Athletics will continue their tradition of honoring a grade school teacher in southern Arizona as ‘Teacher of the Year.’

KGUN9 wants to introduce you to this year’s nine nominees; we continue our visits by meeting Jordan Castle and her anatomy & biology class at Canyon del Oro High School.

“I wanted a classroom to decorate,” Castle said as she pointed to the cool animal models, posters and TV show quotes on the walls. “You can see I love that part.”

Still, every student has their eyes on Ms. Castle and her lesson plan. For her, she said, the fun part is going from the board back to the lab tables. “That’s when the kids learn the most,” she said, “when they can actually get their hands on it, and break it down and apply the notes.”

“They’re taking pictures,” Castle said, “and other teachers are like emailing me or texting me saying, ‘The kids won’t stop talking about this!’ It’s just cool when that light bulb goes off for them.”

Ms. Castle said she knows some of this material can feel daunting, especially when you’re handling samples.

But in her eight years at CDO, she has shown her hands-on style and warm approach bring students like 12th grader Liam DaDeppo back for another year of science class.

“She’s one of the most transformative teachers I know,” DaDeppo said of Ms. Castle. “She’s one of the few teachers I’ve ever had where the main reason I come to school every day is to see her and talk to her; just the environment she’s created is different from almost any other teacher I’ve had.”

CDO principal Tara Bulleigh said a testament to Jordan’s passion and care is the fact she’s inspired students to pursue careers in science when they go to college.

“(That’s) four or five kids that come back to you,” Bulleigh said, “and say, ‘Because I loved your class so much, because you made it so fun and engaging, this is what I’m going to do with the rest of my life.””

“You work a lot and you do a lot,” Castle said as she reflected on her career so far. “It’s nice to be recognized. My principal sees that, and that kids also see that, too… It’s very heartwarming.”

KGUN9 will share more profiles of more awesome teachers this month.

UA Athletics will reveal this year’s winner at the Wildcat men’s basketball game Mar. 2 against Oregon.