PhysTEC Project Contact
University of Colorado at Boulder
I have been a high school science and mathematics teacher for about 30 years and recently retired from the school district. I enjoyed my time with the students and played many other roles in the school and district including serving as the building technology coordinator, building budget chiar, department chair, school improvement leader, assessment coordinator, district data analyst, and district outdoor education coordinator.
In addition to serving as the Teacher in Residence at the University of Colorado, I work with the STEM-Colorado Teacher Preparation program. I also am an adjunct professor teaching physics at the University of Denver.
My PhD in science education looked at cognitive associations students use in solving physics problems. I have continued my interest in physics education research with action research projects in my classes.
I received the Radio Shack award in 2001 and the Presidential Award for Mathematics and Science Teaching in 2002.
My activities as a TiR will focus on establishing a Teacher Advisory Group for the PhysTEC Program and co-teaching a class for undergraduate Learning Assistants to help prepare them for their teaching assignments and responsibilities.
I’ve always been interested in the importance of education even though I didn’t originally have any intention of going into it. My original goal was to do research in the field of astrophysics. That plan included getting an undergrad degree in physics and then looking for an astrophysics grad school. Towards that end I started by attending the University of Denver receiving a B.S. in Physics in 1980. After my sophomore year, I was hired by Hughes Aircraft Company and wound up working there for about ten years as an aerospace systems engineer/analyst. I never felt particularly fulfilled at that job and wanted to do something more meaningful with my life.
Teaching had become more and more of an attraction for me so I quit my job and attended the University of Colorado at Boulder, receiving my teaching certificate in secondary science. I landed my first teaching job (1991) at Boulder High and have been there ever since. I have taught physics, AP Physics B and C, and astronomy. I taught part-time while I went back to the University of Colorado and received my master’s degree in Aerospace Engineering Sciences in 1999 and then returned to full-time teaching. I had heard of the Teacher in Residence program through our local Teacher Advisory Group meetings and it sounded like a great opportunity.
I love to teach, and I consider an education to be one of the most important gifts we can give to others, but that was not always the case. In college, I had no desire to enter a low-paying job like teaching. Instead, I earned a double major in physics and mechanical engineering, and went to work for IBM in Boulder, Colorado. The job was fun and paid well, but two things changed the course of my life: having children and teaching a ninth grade class at my church. I quit my engineering job to stay home with my children when they were young. When it was time to go back to work, I decided to enter the teaching field because teaching young people at my church had been so rewarding. I attended the University of Colorado in Boulder to earn my teaching certificate and an M.S. in education. I have been teaching in the Thompson School District ever since.
I quickly found that physics teachers do not always get to teach physics! I have taught Earth Science, Chemistry, Principles of Technology, Pre-Algebra, and Algebra I. Fortunately, I was able to expand my physics program and have spent the last few years teaching General Physics, Accelerated Physics, AP Physic C, and a class I developed called Microcomputer Projects. Development of the latter course resulted in my winning the international Intel Excellence in Teaching award. Other awards and opportunities followed. I am currently an associate member of the Teacher Advisory Council to the National Academy of Science where I have learned much about teacher preparation and inquiry learning. I look forward to learning more of this as a TIR.