Biographies: University of Cincinnati

John Rowe

John RoweI always knew that I wanted to be involved in the sciences and physics was the natural choice for me. I love the logic and how the concepts are like pieces of a puzzle. To be truthful, it's also about the chance to keep playing with toys and working to create "a-ha" learning experiences for my students. I went to the University of Cincinnati as a physics major and later transferred to the education college to received a B.S. and Masters in Secondary Education.

I have been teaching in the Cincinnati Public School system for the past 27 years. I have spent a majority of my time teaching physics and have also taught physical science, algebra 1 & 2, pre-calculus and calculus. I have experienced the camaraderie of teaching in a building with 3 full-time physics teachers as well as the isolation of having just a section or two and little chance for "shop talk." I have taught in schools where I had the resources to build a program from scratch and other places where my labs depended upon what I could create from the odds & ends I could find at the hardware and toy stores.

Being in a large school district has afforded me many opportunities to grow as a professional. I have mentored teachers in our peer assistance and appraisal program and represented science teachers from across the district as the chair of the Science Curriculum Council. My local experiences led to greater opportunities and I co-authored several chapters in the latest edition of Active Physics. I presented many workshops and designed professional development projects. My focus has been on inquiry-based science, rational approaches to curriculum development and textbook adoption, and the tools necessary to support district-wide, systemic change.

My latest experience provided me the opportunity to spend three years out of the classroom as part of the project management team for a large math and science grant from the General Electric Foundation. I used my "physics mind" to work to fit together complex initiatives involving curriculum, teaching pedagogy, and cultural changes within our school system. My teaching abilities were as necessary as ever - the classroom had just become a bit bigger.

I returned to the classroom and have spent the last 4 years re-grounding myself in the realities of day-to-day teaching. While there are many obstacles and days can be tough, I still get a charge out of the daily interactions with my students. It took an opportunity as special as the PhysTEC grant for me to be willing to step out of the classroom again. I see my work as a TIR as being the next logical step in pursuing my passion for both teaching and physics and I look forward to bringing this enthusiasm to UC as my alma mater recruits and supports the next group of high school physics teachers.