Despite Hailing from a long line of educators and even entering the profession himself as a third-grade teacher, Ryan Kaiser wasn’t sure teaching was for him. That is, until he came to Baltimore from his native Nebraska 10 years ago.

Eager to get to know his new hometown, Kaiser began taking his fifth-grade pupils on field trips, integrating lessons with first-person exploration. The results were profound. “The more we were out of the classroom, the better they were doing in the classroom,” he says.

Recently, Kaiser—who turns 41 this month and now teaches sixth- and eighth-grade social studies at The Mount Washington School—was named the Maryland Teacher of the Year. He will spend the next year traveling statewide talking about education and his teaching methods, which, he says, can be summed up in the Chinese proverb, “I forget what I hear, I remember what I read, and I understand what I do.”

In addition to taking his students on excursions that range from kayaking on the Patapsco River to visiting the White House, Kaiser coaches his school’s debate team and writes the middle-school honors curriculum for the city’s schools, which he thinks don’t get enough credit. “Our students learn—and love to learn—just like any student in any [other] district.” he says.