Person of the Week is a Henderson County science teacher who could win big lab makeover

Our Person of the Week is a Henderson County teacher who kindles a passion for science.

Tom Savage is one of just 18 teachers in the running for the Shell Science Lab Challenge's $20,000 makeover.

The building blocks of learning don't have to be complicated. Savage's hypothesis is that sometimes less is more.

"Doing more with less but making science more interesting for the kids," he stressed.

At Henderson County Early College High School, Savage has been both motivator and problem solver for the past nine years. He strives to instill a sense of why science matters.

"Well, I've got a lot of students who come into my classroom, as an example, who still don't think we went to the moon," Savage said.

He leads the Science Olympiad team, which meets after school.

"He gets to the root of the problem," student Kait Llewellyn said. "So, when we have an issue, it seems easier once he talks to us about it."

Meanwhile, another student gears up for competition with a fresh set of wheels.

"So, the goal here is to make an electrical vehicle that can stop after a certain distance, and we'll be given the distance at the competition," Cameron Patterson said. "And the car that can get to that distance the most accurate and the quickest is the winner."

"For a small school like this, we only have 200 students, over 20 percent actually compete in this event," Savage said.

See? More with less.

In part because of his passion and resourcefulness, Savage is one of the district winners across the country in the Shell contest.

"That really shows through how he teaches us," Patterson said. "And the effort he puts into the experiments and the project we do each week."

"I've never seen so much excitement about science," Savage told News 13. "That's Super Bowl for me, much better than a Super Bowl!"

The teacher won some much-needed cash to spend on science equipment.

"The $3,000 package that I won, it's gonna help actually fund you guys," Savage explained to students.

No matter how many times their projects crash, students are proud to be on Team Savage.

"He's really great because he helps us when we need it," student J.T. Riley said. "But also gives us enough freedom to do what we need to do for the project and allows us to be more creative in class."

Savage will find out on Monday, March 20, if he won the big $20,000 prize.