Last month at Galaxy Theaters, I attended the annual showing on the big screen of the finest photographs from teacher Mike Hunziker’s Key Peninsula Middle School class on digital photography.
Then, the Best Picture of the Year 2015 award for a shot of Seattle after dusk went to seventh-grader Morgan Yeisley. Her classmate, Ashleigh Martin, was named Photographer of the Year 2015 and got a special skateboard for her outstanding photography.
Hunziker’s students’ photos are displayed at St. Anthony Hospital, the MultiCare office suites in Uptown, and were feted at the Washington State Historical Museum in Tacoma. They are good!
“Honestly, I would never have thought photography would be my passion until I set foot in Mr. Hunziker’s classroom,” Martin said. “I’m so glad I had him as a teacher and thank him for getting me interested in photography. I’m so happy I won photographer of the year. It’s been my goal since day one.”
“I’m so thankful my daughter had Mike as a teacher,” said Kari Martin, Ashleigh’s mom. “He introduced her to a camera and all that can be done with it. Taking pictures is now a part of who Ashleigh is and what she does. We will always be grateful to Mike for being such a thoughtful and inspiring teacher.”
Said classmate Ryen Hall, “Photography was a great experience for me because I want to become a professional photographer in the future. Mr. Hunziker’s class gave me a way to follow my passion.”
Former KPMS student Dora Vaughan, now a Peninsula High student, said, “I’ve had many teachers who want to see students succeed but I’ve never had one who cares so much about and sees so much potential in them as Mr. Hunziker. He finds the drive and passion inside kids, introduces them to so many great opportunities, and gives them tools to express creativity in ways nothing else could.”
“(His) class really allowed me to be creative without boundaries,” said eighth-grader Payton Skoglund. “I’ve always been interested in photography but after his class, I just want to take more and more photos. It’s kind of like an outlet.”
To Grady Lester, a former KPMS student, “You will never find someone more equipped as far as connectivity goes between teachers and students. Mr. Hunziker has the ability to break down age barriers with ease.”
Hayley King, recent PHS graduate pursuing a career in graphic arts, said (Hunziker) “is the best teacher I have ever had. He influenced my future in the biggest way anything has. He makes you want to be better. His class was a big help for me in how to express my anger and depression. It gave me a way to handle it in a positive way instead of turning to drugs or running around with the wrong people. He has shaped many lives — I don’t know where I’d be without him.”
Joey Vance, another former KPMS student, “never met a teacher so dedicated. (He) would help anyone no matter how much they tried, or didn’t try. He showed me artistic skills I still use. He inspired students to be better all-around people.”
“I always knew I wanted to be in the health field and the part of the health field I am in deals with photography,” said former KPMS student Veronica Farley. “I was excited to go to his class ... there was nothing like it. It opens your heart to what the arts can be in your life: fashion, interior design, architecture or even what I do, taking X-rays.”
Rick Selfors, a teacher and coach at KPMS wrote, “I’ve been teaching for 35 years. I’ve worked with some of the finest teachers PSD ever had. I’ve been in Mike’s classes almost every day during his 15 years at KPMS. Sometimes for whole periods, other times I just stop a few minutes watching him teach math, computer classes, PE, health, science, the school paper, yearbook, photography ... all of it. He is the finest educator I have ever witnessed.”
Next academic year, Hunziker will be at Vaughn Elementary.
Thanks, and all the best, Mike!
Hugh McMillan is a longtime freelance writer for the Gateway. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.