Deadline nears to vote for North Hills educator up for $20K NHL prize for using hockey-themed STEM program

May 6—North Hills Middle School teacher and avid Pittsburgh Penguins fan Anthony Burns has already netted $10,000 in technology donations for his school from the NHL by using an interactive hockey-themed game to teach STEM skills.

Now the 6th grade science teacher is hoping his program of using interactive game play and real-world scenarios to teach science, technology, engineering and math will help him score another $20,000 in tech for the school.

The $10,000 donation was the prize for being named the NHL and NHL Players' Association's Future Goals Most Valuable Teacher for the Month of January.

Burns was among 20 teachers selected from school in the United States and Canada who use the Future Goals educational program sponsored by the league, the players association and the software and technology company SAP.

He learned that he won January's prize during a video call from Penguins defenseman Brian Dumoulin.

The 12-year veteran teacher is now up against the Most Valuable Teacher winners selected in February and March for a $20,000 prize — Edmonton Oiler's fan Jeremy Spink, who teaches 8th grade at Eastview Middle School in Alberta, Canada; and Philadelphia Flyers fan Donald Conaway Jr., who teaches at Eisenhower Middle School in Norriston, Pa.

Voting ends at midnight on Friday.

"I was very fortunate to have several exceptional teachers throughout my educational career," he said. "Their passion for the content they taught made me excited to come to school each day.

"I entered into the field of education with the hopes that I could bring that same passion for science to my students. It is amazing to see what students can achieve when they are properly motivated and invested in their learning," he said.

In addition to teaching, Burns is involved with the district as a scoreboard operator for North Hills varsity soccer, basketball and lacrosse and also assists at Martorelli Stadium during football games.

Tony LaRussa is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tony at 724-772-6368, or via Twitter .