Mr. Ryan Howard is a talented and passionate educator with more than 20 years of experience driving innovation and engagement in the classroom, science lab, and makerspace. He’s presently Xaverian’s Director of the X-Ploration Center, having previously served as a science teacher and science department chairperson. Now his role is to help students bring their ideas to life in tangible ways, journeying with them through the process to foster learning, growth, creativity, and the attainment of real-world skills. He does this through partnership with teachers across all areas of Xaverian’s curriculum, working to create compelling projects and assignments that utilize the X-Ploration Center for everything from science and robotics to theater and English. For more than two decades of innovation and dedication to Xaverian’s mission, on December 4, 2023 during Xaverian’s Founder’s Day Liturgy, Mr. Howard was named the 2023 Ryken Award Winner.
The Ryken Award was established to recognize the devotedness of an adult member of the Xaverian community who has displayed a steadfast commitment to the vision of Theodore James Ryken, to the mission of Xaverian Brothers High School, and to enhancing the lives of all in the Xaverian community. Faculty, staff, and administrators nominate colleagues for this award. Of Mr. Howard, one colleague noted:
Ryan is regularly available to anyone who needs pretty much anything. The ability to provide support of faculty, staff, and students in and out of the classroom is unrivaled. For years, he has been going above and beyond and works tirelessly to support every department, office, and center with whatever they need, whenever they need it.
Remarkably, while he continually seeks fresh avenues to challenge and inspire students, he possesses an unwavering commitment to upholding the core Xaverian values of Simplicity, Compassion, Zeal, Trust, and Humility in all his endeavors. I have been exceptionally fortunate to have experienced his influence as both a student and an athlete. Now, I find myself even more fortunate to consider him a mentor, colleague, and friend. His commitment to our community and his embodiment of the Xaverian Brothers' mission, serve as an enduring example for us all.
Mr. Howard was surprised, and frankly, just a little bit horrified to win the award. He’s the type who prefers to stay out of the limelight, escaping notice for his work. When asked how he felt about the thunderous applause from faculty, staff, and students that continued unabated for at least five minutes when his name was announced, he replied with a head shake and a chuckle, “I didn’t hear any of that.” He adds, “I love talking about the X-Ploration Center and seeing the work that comes out of it, but receiving praise myself is not how I do things. I much prefer being behind-the-scenes.”
Working with his friends is the best reward for Mr. Howard, more so than any title or honor that can be bestowed. “Honestly, I love the people I work with here. There are people who differentiate between their work friends and their real friends. I don’t have that here, because I work with my friends. Being nominated for the Ryken Award by my peers was huge. You don’t always know what’s happening in other people’s classrooms or spaces, so it’s nice when others notice the work you’re doing in yours. A lot of my mentors have won the Ryken Award, so to think that I am remotely in a category with them is outstanding. I am humbled and grateful.”
Mr. Howard obtained his B.S. in chemistry from Saint Francis University and holds an M.S. and M.Ed., both from Boston College. His research has been featured in national science journals, he has presented at national conferences, and he has been instrumental in securing grants to promote experiential learning and the adoption of 21st century skills in middle school science curriculum. In addition to his work in the classroom, Mr. Howard has served in various extracurricular roles at Xaverian, including as a track and cross country coach, ski and snowboard club, Hawk News, and woodworking club moderator, and as a chaperone for domestic and international service trips.
Photo one: Mr. Ryan Howard, 2023 Ryken Award Winner, with his wife, Mrs. Rebecca Howard
Photo two: Mr. Ryan Howard surrounded by students in Hawk News