Each June at the Laguna Blanca School commencement ceremonies, the most distinguished honor for a member of the faculty is presented — the Faculty Excellence Award. This year’s recipient, math instructor Dan Ary, is regularly mentioned by departing seniors and alumni as one of the most influential faculty members with whom they have enjoyed interacting.
Ary earned his master’s degree in math from UC Santa Barbara in 1976, and has been teaching all levels of high school math at Laguna Blanca since 1992.
Prior to his teaching career, Ary was the corporate director of computer services of General Research Corp. for 18 years. He started as a math volunteer at Laguna Blanca when his young daughter, Kelly, class of 1998 (a Laguna Blanca student from kindergarten through 12th grade, also known as a “Laguna lifer”), was attending the school. Kelly continues the family tradition, and has been teaching math locally for the past seven years.
Ary has also been a math instructor at Santa Barbara City College for 10 years, teaching everything from basic algebra to calculus.
“Mr. Ary keeps us engaged and he has this innate ability to know if you’re not getting it,” said rising junior Stephen McCaffery, who is currently taking Ary’s summer SAT Math Prep course. “He makes every effort to make sure you really understand the concepts.”
During the award presentation, it was noted that Ary meets all the prerequisites and considerations for the award, which include excellent teaching and professionalism, the ability to contribute to Laguna Blanca program enhancement, engaging in the wider Santa Barbara community to support the mission of the school, consistently working with students outside of class time, and being a magnet for positive student interactions.
This annual award, generously endowed by Marilyn and Steven Gutsche (parents of Laguna alumni Daniel, class of 2008, and Taylor, class of 2005), includes a cash stipend, as well as professional development funds that can be used for workshops, conferences, and teaching materials or equipment.
Laguna Blanca School is a K-12 co-educational, college preparatory day school. It guides students to greater heights by building upon the 80-year tradition of academic excellence with new and innovative teaching methods and programs. With the thriving global studies program, resourceful iPad initiative, competitive Condor League athletics, and the state-of-the-art academic research center, the School continues to broaden and enrich our students’ educational experience. Click here for more information.
— Jennifer Guess is a publicist representing Laguna Blanca School.