With two bachelor's degrees and a master's degree, Ron Wicks might seem like a lifelong scholar. But Wicks admits he wasn't always the perfect student in high school. Not long after his high school days, he dived into school with the same passion he tries to stir in his students. Wicks teaches at American Fork Junior High School, where he's qualified to teach history, art, literature, English and German. This year Wicks has taken on seven classes with scattered subjects.

Once when meeting a fellow teacher at American Fork, Wicks asked, "What do you teach?" and the new teacher responded "English and geography." When the teacher asked Wicks what it was that he taught, he replied, "I teach children."

In his 29 years as an educator, Wicks' techniques were always a bit different from the norm. One year on the first day of school, Wicks set an oil can and a blanket at the front of the class. For three days the oil can and blanket were ignored before a student finally stopped and asked him why they were there. The lesson: Don't accept things the way they are. Ask questions.

How do you keep your students on track and learning despite today's challenges such as bullying, gang violence and digital distractions?

"I have good kids," Wicks said, a teacher who focuses on engaging the classroom beyond the everyday distractions. As proof, Wicks described his students' efforts to raise money to buy tents for Haitians whose homes were destroyed. The students raised nearly $3,000 for Haitians.

—Gina Barker