TEMPE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- All you have to do is walk into the classroom of Connolly Middle School math teacher Kyle Scatena to notice it’s not like the rest.

Inside there aren’t desks, there are bean bags, couches and spinning chairs for the students to sit in.

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“As you can tell, my classroom is set up differently. I hated sitting in desks, I hated all that stuff. I enjoy them sitting on yoga balls and bean chairs and spinning chairs and letting them do their own thing. We get a lot of math done,” says Mr. Scatena.

But that’s just one of the many differences for his 8th grade students. While most math teachers are busy focused on the numbers, Mr. Scatena has incorporated the real world into his math lesson and is teaching the kids how to budget.

That is one of the reasons Mr. Scatena is being awarded the 3TV Silver Apple Award sponsored by The Dairy Counsel of Arizona, for excellence in teaching.

"I like being acknowledged, I’m big on being the center of attention, so this is fun for me. It is a humbling reward to get from one of my students, just saying I’m a good teacher. So, you could say it's heartwarming,” said the fourth-year educator.

Mr. Scatena was nominated by one of his graduating students, Emily Bailey, who wrote in the nomination form:

"Mr. Scatena has really made math a better class. Mr. Scatena is very unique and different from other teachers. Not only do we learn math, we learn how to be an actual human, learning things like shaking hands and making eye contact. Mr. Scatena is amazing and we can depend on him. All of his classes love him and I know I do."

However, it’s the simple life lessons that really made a difference for Bailey.

“Going into the 8th grade was a really big thing for me. I wasn't very nice or respectful and I’ve learned throughout the year from Mr. Scatena that being respectful, saying 'thank you', 'you’re welcome' or doing a kind act for someone really makes an impact on your life. Also, people want to actually hang out with you and be your friend,” says Bailey

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Mr. Scatena says that’s always been the focus of his teachings, passed down from one of his teachers.

“Something as simple as holding a door for someone makes a difference. Our world needs more kindness. We’re not always humans, we're all on our cell phones and doing something else. These are my essentials, they’re based off another teacher Ron Clarke, who was amazing. It promotes 'Yes sir,' 'no Sir,' 'yes Ma’am,' 'no Ma’am,' just the basic politeness that I think our kids and adults are missing right now,” according to Scatena.

Lessons that help kids not only become great students but great people.

“I love to have fun, laugh and giggle. It shows them I’m an actual human and hopefully it passes down to them they can be human too, while learning a lot of math," he said.


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