PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- Culinary arts Teacher Ryan Mattheis is a chef by trade and never thought he would teach long when he took the job at Barry Goldwater High School.

[WATCH: Experienced chef and culinary arts teacher honored with Silver Apple award]

However, the students changed his plans and now one has nominated him for 3TV’s Silver Apple Award by sending in a letter reading:

“Chef Mattheis has been instrumental in not only helping myself succeed in all that I do but every one of my classmates as well. He stays after school to help us succeed in our student run restaurant Avenue 27, which he started and runs without any other teacher's help and sometimes without extra pay. He always puts every student above himself, even if they aren't truly his students.”


Mr. Mattheis was speechless when hearing those words written by Barry Goldwater Senior James Lacno.

“That's what I strive to do every day. It's not the pay, it's nothing else, it's really the students. Seeing that I do have that impact on the students means the world to me. That’s my life goal to make sure our future is well taken care of,” says Chef Mattheis.

But Mr. Mattheis is not your typical teacher and he doesn’t teach in your typical classroom. Chef Mattheis started this student-run, on-campus, fine dining restaurant, Avenue 27.

Mr. Mattheis explains how it came to be saying “They asked me what I wanted, they trust me and my vision. I said I wanted to open a restaurant and they thought I was absolutely crazy. They said a restaurant, open to the kids, open to the teachers? I said 'No, open to the public.'”

It opened and amazingly has helped students gain more than a letter grade. By running the restaurant, doing everything from cooking, cleaning and even setting up reservations the students have gained real life experience.

“That regularity that they have working in the restaurant, getting that weekly experience has really made those skills skyrocket. Now almost every day businesses are asking for my students to go work at their restaurants. And these jobs are not minimum wage, they start at $14, $15 an hour and up,” according to Chef Mattheis.

That’s one of the many reasons Mr. Mattheis was nominated for a Silver Apple Award sponsored by The Dairy Council of Arizona. With this great award for excellence in teaching, Chef Mattheis receives a check for $1000.00. A well-deserved nod letting him know his students believe in him.

“I’ve grown more as a person and as a leader because of the role I’ve been put in and the role Chef Mattheis has allowed me to take,” says James Lacno who nominated Mattheis for the award. “He really let's me go off on my own to discover the leadership style I want to have because he’s more about throwing you in and let you learn by experience.”

The love is mutual because Chef Mattheis always believes in his students too.

“It's my passion. I didn't go into teaching thinking I would stay but the kids made me stay. Seeing the lives I’ve changed through this program has kept me here,” says Mattheis.

Click here to nominate your favorite teacher.


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