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Coach Enrique Chee named Kiwanis ‘Educator of the Year’

Enrique Chee

The Bainbridge Island Kiwanis Club has selected Bainbridge High School’s Enrique Chee as its 2015 “Educator of the Year.” Chee — science department chair, physics teacher, Rocketry Club adviser and coach of the school’s robotics team — will receive the award at a breakfast meeting Wednesday, July 15,7 a.m. at St. Barnabas Episcopal Church, 1187 Wyatt Way West. In addition to the award, Kiwanis President John Jay will present both Chee and the high school with $500.

The purpose of the annual award is to honor an educator who has made outstanding contributions toward the education of children on Bainbridge Island. Jay said the club received 40 individual nomination letters – from students, parents, other educators and the public at large – praising Chee as an instructional leader who goes beyond the boundaries of the classroom to help improve the science program for Bainbridge students.

“The many specific comments made about his superior teaching ability, the countless volunteer hours he dedicates to after school activities and his committed relationship with his students make him a truly worthy recipient of this year’s award,” Jay said.

“Every now and again, one looks back at an inspiring person who encouraged the pursuit of a challenge that was life changing,” said one parent. “Today I am privileged enough to see this happen to our daughter, and how Mr. Chee has influenced her current choices towards engineering  challenges, without fear, without misgivings, and happy to learn more.”

“Mr. Chee signed on to become the coach of the Spartronics robotics team when it formed in 2013,” said a former student who is now in college. “He encouraged us to actively participate in an organization to inspire the students to become active in science and technology, and his direction alongside of our adult mentors helped us to attend the robotics World Championships in St. Louis, twice in our two years as a team.”

“Enrique Chee optimizes what every great educator should be: Someone who challenges you, who pushes you to do the best you can, who teaches you so you really learn, and not just recite, and most importantly, someone you can trust because of his consistency and fairness,” said Kevin Hawkins, one of the founding mentors of Team Spartronics. “He has been tireless as both an educator and a coach for Bainbridge High and its robotics team, but, most importantly, he is always about making sure our kids are ready.

A friend of ours had a daughter who went to MIT. She aced her physics class there and said it was because of Chee. What more could one ask for from an “Educator of the Year?”

“The most rewarding part of teaching is meeting my students many years later and hearing the positive impact I had on them,” said Chee, who has taught for 24 years, the past 14 years at Bainbridge High School.

Born in Hong Kong, Chee came to the United States at age two and grew up in New York City. He received an engineering degree from Rutgers University, served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Honduras, and received a Peace Corps fellowship to attend Columbia University where he earned a master’s degree in science education.

Chee is the seventh recipient of the Kiwanis Educator of the Year Award. Past recipients are: Mary Alice O’Neill in 2009; Ian Eisenhood, 2010; Adam Rabinowitz, 2011; Sean Eaton, 2012; Christine Fulgham, 2013; and Maureen Wilson, 2014.

Jay said this year’s selection committee had several “outstanding” candidates from which to choose. He encourages community members to nominate worthy teachers for future awards. The only stipulation for the Educator of the Year Award is that the recipient cannot be a Kiwanis Club member.