PONCA CITY – Po-Hi 9th grade English teacher Ryan Shelton caught the eye of Outdoor Oklahoma television show with his unique teaching method. The television crew came to Ponca City and filmed Shelton’s class. The show has already aired but can be seen on their Youtube channel at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mfeEkz0XesE. If the link doesn’t work, just Google Ponca City Fly Fishing Teacher on Youtube.
Ryan Shelton has been teaching his students how to fly fish as a part of his curriculum for many years. Shelton explains, “In mid to late September of each year, I teach my students how to fly fish. As part of their curriculum, we read A River Runs Through It by Norman Maclean. Most of my students have never fly fished before, so in order for them to fully understand Maclean’s narrative, I teach them about the equipment used, the different types of flies, then I take them into the yard in front of the school to show them the casts. That evening the students meet me at the lake and we target bluegills, green sunfish, and sometimes we get lucky with a small largemouth. For many students, this is the first fish they have ever caught in their lives. For almost all of them, it is the only fish they have caught on a fly rod.”
“When I approached A River Runs Through It in 2011, I realized that I needed to take my students fly fishing, and I could do that right here in Ponca City. When they hold the rod in their hands, moving to the four-count rhythm of the cast, and when they lay out the line on top of the water, then set the hook on a bass that has just exploded on their fly, the look of excitement on their faces is something that makes my day, and hopefully is a memory they will never forget. Since the book has fly fishing as a cultural setting, it only makes sense to me to let them experience it, so that they could have an appreciation of fly fishing. This allows them to have a deeper understanding of the more complicated aspects of the book.”
“The lessons my students learn go way beyond the classroom because I like to bring literature to life for them,” said Shelton. “I have had many former students call me to ask questions about fly fishing. I also have a lot of parents call me and tell me how much they appreciated me teaching those skills to their child and what it meant to them. I always tuck those memories away and save them for the rainiest of days.”
Shelton was selected as Teacher of the Year nominee from Po-Hi in 2010, and in 2011 he was selected as the District Teacher of the Year. It is easy to see why this talented teacher caught the eye of an Oklahoma television show.
Pictured: Girl in the green shirt is Isabella Vaden. The boy with the fish is Brady Ladner.