Supported SiteSupported Site University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: Teacher-In-Residence


  • Our fourth TIR was a retired physics teacher from Wake County with over 30 years of experience. He brought a lively, iconoclastic sensibility to our pedagogy course and engaged well with the students.
  • Our TIR undertook a significant expansion of the advertising efforts for our symposium for high school physics teachers, SHAPE 2010.
  • Our TIR made arrangements for recruiting visits to local high school physics classrooms.
  • The TIR was able to build upon the work of the earlier TIRs. The framework of the Teacher Advisory Group (TAG) created by the first TIR established a group of highly competent high school teachers ready to advise and work with the TIR. The type of co-operative teaching for the spring pedagogy class was also established and very functional.
  • In the physics pedagogy course taught in Spring 2010 the TIR was a full participant as co-instructor at all times.
  • The TIR was perceived as being the person who knew the actual high school classroom environment and how the educational theory could be applied effectively in that environment.
  • The TIR was responsible for advertising the Symposium on the Horizons in Astronomy and Physics Education (SHAPE) - a High School Teacher Conference which took place in December, 2009. In addition to advertising the symposium, she was able to advertise the UNC-BEST program in general.


  • The best high school physics teachers in the local area continue to be reluctant to leave their classrooms, and their principals are also reluctant to cooperate with us due to the difficulty in finding a suitable replacement teacher (a difficulty that we hope UNC-BEST will eventually help to alleviate).
  • Getting high school teachers to leave the high school classroom was and remains a challenge. The 2007-2008 TIR remained a half-time teacher during the TIR experience, and the 2008-2009 TIR also remained a part-time (about 2/3) teacher during her time at UNC. The 2009-2010 TIR was a retired teacher who has a private tutoring business. Should we have the funding available, the 2010-2011 TIR will be a recent retiree who has an art studio.
  • The general health of our TIRs has become a concern. This may be due to the maturity of the TIRs, the strain of the position (and commute from home to UNC), or a combination of both.

Sustainability/Institutional Buy-In

  • Because we have a Noyce Scholar for academic year 2011/12, we will receive support for a Visiting Master Teacher (VMT). We are in the process of contracting with a member of our Teacher Advisory Group to fill this role, which he will do while continuing to teach full-time.
  • If the VMT is willing to take on the additional task of co-teaching the physics pedagogy course in Spring 2012, departmental instructional funds will be available to pay him. However, it is not possible at this time to assure that this will be the case in subsequent years, due to significant reductions in the University's budget.
  • There is currently no institutional support for the TIR. However, we intend to seek internal funding for the TIR after the grant ends, building on the significant support and good will the program has already earned within the University. Some support may be possible from the department's instructional budget if the position continues to be part-time.

Lessons Learned

  • Different TIRs have different skills, so it is important to work with each person to identify the tasks that they are most capable of accomplishing well.
  • A university is different from the high school environment. The first TIR was given a specific set of challenges which made it rather easy to perform the tasks. The second TIR had more freedom to do other activities such as work with lab TA and their teaching techniques. She also provided input for a High School Teacher Conference to take place in December, 2009.
  • The third TIR was able to focus much of her time in the fall on the Symposium on the Horizons in Astronomy and Physics Education (SHAPE) - a High School Teacher Conference which took place in December, 2009.
  • In our local area, finding a full-time TIR probably will always be difficult. The university will have to find ways to be flexible in hiring part-time TIRs.

List of TIRs over the Project

  • 2007-2008 - David Green: He taught physics and computer science for 40 years at C. E. Jordan High School, Durham, NC; he is National Board Certified in Physics and won the Presidential Award in Mathematics and Science Teaching; one of his current students won the national Intel Award for 2008.
  • 2008-2009 - Liz Woolard: She taught physics for 40 years at W. G. Enloe Magnet High School, Raleigh, NC and is currently at Raleigh Charter High School, Raleigh, NC; she is National Board Certified in Physics and won the Presidential Award in Mathematics and Science Teaching; one of her past students won the national Intel Award in 2003. She was a Radio Shack "Champion of the Classroom Technology Scholar" Award winner and a GTE "GIFT" Grant Recipient. She also worked at the Science House at North Carolina State University (NCSU) for 12 years developing materials, teaching workshops for teachers, and leading summer camps in science for high school students.
  • 2009-2010 - Sharon Cooke: She taught physics for over 20 years in various schools in Wake County as well as for eight years at Wake Technical Community College. She has also worked at Science House at NCSU, developing materials for environmental education. She received her BS in Science Education from UNC-CH, and has almost completed the requirements for a Master of Liberal Studies degree (emphasis in History) from NCSU.
  • 2010-2011 - Michael Prim: He taught physics for over 30 years in the North Carolina public schools. He received his BS in Mathematics from UNC-CH and has pursued graduate studies in mathematics and physics at Berkeley and UNC (respectively). Prior to retiring in 2009, he taught at Millbrook High School in Raleigh, NC.

Finding and Hiring a TIR

  • Our VMT for 2011/12 is a member of our Teacher Advisory Group and has served as a supervising teacher for field experiences in the physics pedagogy course.
  • We have used the Teacher Advisory Group developed by the first TIR as our primary source of future TIRs, but our third TIR came to us via personal contact with Liz Woolard.
  • The fourth TIR was going to be a current member of the Teacher Advisory Group, but that fell through when we were unable to negotiate release time for him with the Wake County Public Schools. Through personal contacts of Sharon Cooke, we were able to locate a candidate without these restrictions.