When Brian Malloy talks about being a math teacher his eyes widen, his hands start moving and he starts using words like passion.
"I can't wait to get in here in the morning. I really love it here," he said of Bodine High School for International Affairs, where he has taught since 2004.
"There's no better feeling than when you have a really terrific lesson and everything's clicking and kids are asking good questions. It just feels like you are getting a lot accomplished," Malloy said after finishing his last class of the day earlier this week.
In 30 years with the Philadelphia School District, Malloy has accomplished much and traveled far.
Back in 1979, he was a long-term substitute teacher, still working toward earning a teaching degree and certification.
Last evening, Malloy, 57, was named teacher of the year during the school district's 25th annual Celebration of Excellence in Education, held at The Franklin.
A five-member committee chose Malloy from 12 finalists. Besides receiving the Dr. Ruth Wright Hayre Teacher of the Year Award, Malloy collected a $2,500 stipend from Lincoln Investment Planning and a round-trip ticket to any Southwest Airlines destination in the U.S.
"It feels good to be recognized, I've got to admit. You don't get recognized too often teaching," Malloy said during an interview Wednesday when he was one of the nervous nominees.
This marks the second year in a row that a Bodine High teacher has been named top teacher in a school system with more than 10,700 teachers. Last year's honor went to Gina Hart, who teaches ninth-grade English.
"We're going into another stage of euphoria. It has been a good year for us," said Bodine Principal Ann D. Gardiner, noting last month's visit by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and championships won by the debate and tennis teams.
The use of site selection - the practice whereby a school committee interviews and hires applicants to fill teaching vacancies - has allowed Bodine to put together a staff of stellar educators like Hart and Malloy, Gardiner said.
"He is the teacher that has the students at the edge of their seats. He's the teacher who understands the question even when the student cannot articulate the question. He's able to transform mistakes into opportunities for teaching," she said of Malloy.
In nominating him, Bodine's leadership team wrote that a visit to Malloy's classroom "reveals a master teacher who is approachable and willing to approach his students. While his students tackle open-ended tasks, Mr. Malloy circulates, encourages and coaches."
Even while walking down a Bodine hallway, the goateed and gregarious Malloy connects with the students, giving as many high-fives and back slaps as he gets.
"He's a wonderful man. He does a lot, and he's always someone you can go and talk to," said Christina Smiley, 17. "He's someone who listens."
In addition to teaching math studies to 11th- and 12th-grade students enrolled in the rigorous International Baccalaureate program, Malloy is roster chair.
That requires him to help students with their rosters as well as managing the 1,800 applications Bodine receives each year from students hoping to be admitted to the Northern Liberties magnet school.
He also coaches the school's bowling and softball teams.
Teaching and coaching are what he always wanted to do, but Malloy earned an economics degree from the University of Pennsylvania on the advice of his parents. There's no money in teaching, they warned him.
"I did well, but I just didn't like what I was doing," Malloy said of life as a sales consultant in his hometown of Atlanta.
So he returned to Philadelphia, became a sub and earned a master's degree in secondary math education from what is now Arcadia University.
Malloy also has worked at Wagner Junior High School and at Martin Luther King High School. His wife, Janet, is a librarian at Swenson Arts and Technology High School.
Soon, one of the couple's two adult sons will follow them into the teaching profession, Malloy said proudly.
"Next to marrying my wife, it's the best decision I ever made," he said of becoming a teacher.
"There's a lot of tough days that you question yourself. But on the good days, there's nothing better."