Matthew Selba didn’t plan to become a math teacher until late in college. A few years later, he was happy to return to his alma mater of Indian River High School, where he was recently named Teacher of the Year for 2021-2022.
As a 2012 IR alumnus, Selba now teaches Algebra II and coaches wrestling alongside the mentors who influenced his own high-school years.
“I’m just happy to find a place where I was able to develop into a good teacher. I’m filled with pride and gratitude,” said Selba, who considers Teacher of the Year to be a team award. “It’s all about who I’ve worked with. … I’m only as good as the people around me.”
“Mr. Selba interacts with us, and it is abundantly clear that he cares for our own well-being in addition to our education,” said one student, calling him funny, caring and genuine. “He does his best to cater to all student needs and struggles. He is … just an amazing teacher because he treats with the same respect that he expects from us.”
As a statistics major in college, Selba originally planned to become an actuary who calculates financial risk for companies, but after tutoring and mentoring in a student leadership program, Selba was drawn to education, “helping people improve and develop and be the best version of themselves.”
“I’m a big before-and-after product kind of guy,” so he loves seeing the students grow, he said, “being able to see the ‘a-ha’ — the moment or being able to apply it to the real world.”
Selba was among the district’s 15 Teachers of the Year, one per school, announced this spring. He thanked his fiancée at home, his parents (both educators who raised 11 children) and his colleagues for their support over the years.
He also thanked the IR parents, who played a role as classroom mentors more than ever in 2020-2021.
“A lot of the teaching that has happened is because of their support at home.”
As for his students, “I’m so proud of how far each set of them comes each year … and how they can adapt,” Selba said. “The students have faced a lot of adversity with remote learning. We virtually set up these students that had never done an online course to start taking almost like a college-style course, and … they’ve just come so far.”
Remote learning has brought plenty of negatives, but “we can see more technology used in classrooms, which I think can prepare them for the real world, where they’re constantly surrounded by technology” and must learn to focus.
Most important, he shared “how proud I am of them for a facing the adversity that they did and responding well to it.”