Biographies: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

David Green, 2007-2008

GreenI am the offspring of two teachers and I have two grandparents that were also teachers so I guess I came to this profession by osmosis. I graduated from Duke University in 1965 with a major in Chemistry and minors in Physics and Math. In summer of 1966 and I spent a year with many returning teachers taking courses through an NSF Academic Year Institute. I earned my MAT in 1967 while teaching remedial mathematics in Wilmington, NC. After earning my MAT, I moved back to Chapel Hill to work on a doctorate in mathematics but the lure of the classroom was too intense and I left the doctoral program and took a job teaching Algebra and Pre-Calculus starting at C.E. Jordan H.S. in Durham, NC. I jumped at the chance to teach physics when the current teacher resigned but I pretty much stunk until after I attended a fantastic NSF Summer Institute in PSSC physics. I have taught Physics steadily ever since and also taught Chemistry Engineering Concepts AP Calculus Computer Programming, AP Computer Science and AP Physics over the years.

In 1970, my school became the second school in NC to get permanent access to computing via a Time-Shared system that eventually served six school systems. I was able to grow demand to the point that we were the first high school in NC to have its own mini-computer installed in 1978 for student use I completed my course work for a PhD in Math/Science Education at UNC-CH but the increasing administrative role from my computer activities made completion of the degree virtually impossible. I did earn National Board Certification in 1999. In 2003 I retired after 37 years of classroom instruction, mainly to rid myself of the increasing burden of the administrative side of my job. I am now "double-dipping" by receiving my full retirement and still teaching half-time at Jordan in Physics and AP Physics.

I have been married for 42 years to my wife, Martha - retired from a 30-year elementary school career. When we retired, we designed and built a new home about 17 miles from Chapel Hill, We have two grown daughters both of whom live in New York City and are classical singers and one grandchild who is the delight of us all!!

Liz Woolard, 2008-2009

WoolardIn her 41 years of teaching, Liz Woolard has strived to meet the challenges she faces in helping her students find success in learning the concepts and enjoying the applications of physics.  As a dedicated believer in effective communication as a primary tool of learning, she listens. She attempts to establish continuous communication and rapport among herself, students, and parents. She develops a nurturing classroom environment that includes enthusiasm, flexibility, and a willingness to learn and incorporate new technologies into her teaching. She focuses on "activity based inquiry learning" through lab work and cooperative learning. 

Mrs. Woolard graduated from Meredith College in Raleigh, NC with a Bachelor of Science in Education degree in mathematics with a minor in physics.  She now holds a secondary teaching certification in physics and mathematics after twenty-four graduate credits at NCSU. She is a National Board Certified Teacher in Adolescent, Young Adult Science (physics concentration).  She began her teaching career at W G Enloe High School, taught one year at Junction City High School in Junction City, Kansas. Upon retiring from Enloe High School after 40 years of teaching, she is teaching AP physics at Raleigh Charter School.

Mrs. Woolard was chosen as the North Carolina award recipient for the Presidential Teaching Excellence Award in Science. She received the GTE GIFT grant, the Radio Shack Champion of the Classroom Award, the Business Committee for Education Governor's Award, the NCSTA District Eight Outstanding Science Teacher Award, and the Sigma Xi Outstanding Science Teacher Award. She was department chair of both mathematics and science at W. G. Enloe Magnet High School for a total of 15 years.

Sharon Cooke, 2009-2010

Cooke A friend of mine, a writer, says her motto is "to live to tell the tale." I would paraphrase her and say my motto would have to be "to live to teach the tale." The tale that I have chosen to teach as my life's work is introductory physics. No doubt old teachers and professors of mine that I drove to tears would be surprised to see that I turned out to be a physics teacher. I'm more suited to poetry or history, being right-brained; for those of you into personality inventories I am an ENFP (Extraverted Intuitive Feeling Perceiving), not your usual science teacher. Most science teachers are ESTJ's (Extraverted Sensing Thinking Judging) or their quieter brethren, ISTJ's (Introverted Sensing Thinking Judging). But I came of age during the space race, when science was All and labs were fully equipped. Out of the top ten in my high school graduating class, eight of us became science teachers. The other two became engineers. So I worked for a B.S. in science education and took lit and history classes to pull up my GPA.

When I began to teach physics, I discovered that most of my students were not ESTJ's and that I understood better than most the problems they faced in grappling with the "Queen of Sciences." I have had a long and happy career helping students appreciate physics. I have taught academic physics, honors physics, AP physics and engineering physics at the community college level. My graduate work has been largely in the history of science and medicine. I no longer stand in front of a high school classroom on a daily but jump at any opportunity to teach. I hope this position as TIR at Carolina will afford me an opportunity to pass along the knowledge of what I do best.

Michael Prim, 2010-2011

PrimI attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill from 1964-68 and received a B.S. in mathematics. I planned on becoming a mathematician, but my lottery number was 21 and my draft board was not happy about me working on a mathematics degree - particularly at UC-Berkeley. In order to avoid the draft my father suggested I become a teacher. Teaching was the last thing I thought of doing with my life, but in those days teaching mathematics or science kept you out of the military. So I tried it, and I loved it! In the late 1960s and early 1970s I taught mathematics at the high school and middle school level. Later I became the first teacher in Granville County, North Carolina to teach seventh and eighth graders in a gifted and talented program. I went back to UNC-Chapel Hill and enrolled in over thirty hours of physics classes. I worked as a medical photographer at Duke University Medical Center in the neuropathology department for over eight years and then...I got an enormous urge to teach again. I was hired in 1983 to teach physics at Millbrook High School in Raleigh, North Carolina. I taught Honors and AP Physics at Millbrook for twenty-seven years and loved it to the end!

I have been an active abstract-expressionist oil painter for over twenty years. My passion for music and art complements my love for physics and mathematics. My over three hundred paintings are attempts to engage people in the sense of the cosmic mysteries, of familiar, yet unsettling kinship with different worlds and realities. Since I fervently believe that the universe has no categories and that everything is truly related, all of my various interests: physics, mathematics, music, art, philosophy, literature are manifested in my paintings. A few titles suggest my eclectic taste: "Morphogenetic Space: Homage to Goeth," "Mindscape X: African Woman in Astral Ascent," "Ethereal Lights," "Ethereal Lights," "Homage to Klee," "Memories, Dreams and Reflections," and "Diving into Infinity or the Electromagnetic Deoxyribonucleic Acid Trip." I have had two one-man shows and two group shows at SOHO, New York City. I am presently working on painting the thirty-two piano sonatas of Beethoven; my studio is at the Golden Belt complex in Durham, North Carolina.

Despite all the mathematics and physics in my life I have always thought of myself as an artist, first and last. I am curious about the universe and in particular the interrelationship between everything. Even though I love mathematics and physics, at my core I am an artist, more the seeker of the Truth. I was always struggling with how to express the totality of the universe. My teaching style was certainly unorthodox in the high school setting. I had no education courses, no pedagogical training to guide me in my teaching. I only had my university professors and my artistic sensibilities as my guides. I brought into the classroom my enthusiasm for physics, my love of people and my desire to create. I think of teaching as an art form where the studied preparation of a discipline is spontaneously brought to life. As I look back on those thirty years of teaching I cannot imagine a more satisfying career. What I am hoping to bring to the TIR program at UNC-Chapel Hill is my passion for physics and teaching; I am eager to seek out the bright, young students at Chapel Hill. I hope to convey to them the enormous feeling of satisfaction and intellectual stimulation that comes from teaching physics. I would like to present teaching high school physics as similar to being in the Peace Corp or Teach for America. A truly inspired teacher combines the best of the artist and the intellectual. Teaching is perhaps the most important calling on planet Earth.

Sam Wheeler, 2011-2012

WheelerMy name is Sam Wheeler and I am starting my 17th year teaching. In high school I had no real idea of what I wanted to be when I grew up, but I knew I wanted to do something related to science. As it turned out, I won a full scholarship that paid my way through undergraduate school on the one condition that I teach for four years after I graduate. Figuring I had better take advantage of the opportunity in front of me, I earned my BS in Physics and my BS in Science Education at NCSU. However, after becoming disillusioned with teaching as a result of a difficult student teaching experience, I promised myself that I would never step foot in a classroom again and decided to go on to graduate school at Western Carolina University where I earned my MS in Applied Mathematics. But during the summers, I taught science with a program called Upward Bound where I fell in love with the classroom again. Having rediscovered the joys of teaching I began my formal career as a science teacher in Madison County, NC and then eventually moved back to Raleigh, NC where I have been teaching Physics and AP Physics ever since.

In the meantime, I went on to receive the NC Kenan Fellowship in 2002 and the Presidential Award for Excellence in Math & Science Teaching in 2005 and was also a finalist for NASA's Educator Astronaut Program (NEAT) in 2004. Each of these unique honors have opened up doors and opportunities that I would have never dreamed would be available for me. In the meantime, I have completed another graduate degree in Radiation Physics at IIT and am currently working on my PhD in Science Education at NCSU. I am also a National Board Certified Teacher in Physics.

In my time off, I love to travel to unique and beautiful places and have had numerous opportunities to do so over the past decade. I have a side passion for the life and environmental sciences and have enjoyed wonderful experiences in Namibia, Kenya, Belize, Ecuador, Yellowstone, Alberta, and Guyana just to name a few. Because of these opportunities, I have brought back ideas for lessons and experiments to the classroom which has allowed me to show students how physics relates to all aspects of nature and has a wide range of applications.

Physics has been good to me, and when I decided to follow the path of my interests and passions I have found that my life has become richer as a result. I am honored and excited to continue to explore these passions as a TIR with the PhysTEC program.