• Rhonda Aust, middle, is Mountain Brook High School's 2020-2021 Teacher of the Year. She is flanked by MBHS Assistant Principal Carrie Busby, left, and MBHS Principal Philip Holley. 

    Jan. 21, 2021 — Rhonda Aust decided to become a high school chemistry teacher because of her stellar experience as a high school chemistry student. One of her former teachers made the subject matter come alive through his fervent and engaging presentation style.

    According to Mountain Brook High School Principal Philip Holley — who also chose a career in education thanks to an enthusiastic professor — Aust has the same effect on her students at MBHS.

    “I know what kind of impact a teacher can have when they love their subject, they’re passionate about it, and they love teaching it to kids,” Holley said. “I see that with Rhonda. I think there are going to be kids down the line that will sit there and tell someone that, ‘I got into education because of the chemistry teacher I had in 10th grade, Mrs. Aust.”

    Aust, a 22-year education veteran, has taught advanced chemistry at MBHS for the past five years. Her colleagues selected her as the school’s 2020-2021 Teacher of the Year.

    “Just to be recognized by this faculty and this school is incredible and humbling,” Aust said. “I know what goes on here, and I know how many people work so hard. I just can’t believe that I got this.”

    Aust, who grew up in Northeast Mississippi, holds a bachelor’s degree from Mississippi State University and a master’s degree from UAB. She taught full-time for four years after college and then took a 10-year break to raise her children.

    Aust served in an adjunct role at Jefferson State Community College during her decade away from a secondary classroom. Upon her return to full-time teaching, she spent one year at Midfield High and 12 years at Hoover High before arriving at Mountain Brook.

    She savors the opportunity.

    “The culture of academia here is second to none,” Aust said. “It’s an amazing place to be a teacher.”

    Holley said Aust excels in teaching students how to think, not just what to think. Aust's pupils learn how to problem-solve, collaborate, and apply their knowledge in a classroom environment that makes a difficult subject slightly less daunting.

    “We’re just so blessed to have her here,” Holley said. “She makes it where the kids enjoy going to her class. They look forward to it, they learn stuff, and they come out so prepared.”

    Aust considers her job more of a calling than a career. She wouldn't trade it for anything, even in a pandemic.

    “I love teenagers and I love my subject,” Aust said. “I think I was just kind of put here to teach chemistry.”

    Teacher of the Year Overview

    Name: Rhonda Aust

    Role: 10th Grade Advanced Chemistry Teacher

    Years at MBHS: 5

    Fun Fact: Aust is a proud mother of three outstanding children: Catherine, Daniel, and Thomas.