PhysTEC Teacher of the Year

PhysTEC Teacher of the Year

Bouakham Sriri-Perez
2020 National PhysTEC Teacher of the Year
See all previous awardees

The PhysTEC Teacher of the Year program recognizes outstanding high school physics educators who demonstrate the impact and value of physics teacher preparation programs. Each year, PhysTEC member institutions submit their recommendations to the selection committee, and one National Teacher of the Year and several local teachers of the year are selected. 

2020 National Teacher of the Year: Bouakham Sriri-Perez


The 2020 National Teacher of the Year is Bouakham Sriri-Perez of Duncan Polytechnical High School in Fresno, CA. Sriri-Perez was nominated by PhysTEC institution California State University, Fresno, from which she graduated.

Sriri-Perez considers herself "a Lao refugee who achieved her aspirations as a Physics teacher and
educational leader." Her love for learning, strong work ethics, and compassion for others were inspired by her family, which escaped the war-torn country of Laos and lived in Soon Ubon Refugee Camp in Thailand for two years prior to receiving sponsorship to resettle in the United States of America. Her enthusiasm for learning and tenacity to improve the quality of life for her family overshadowed their low socioeconomic background, and the mentors who recognized her potential helped cultivate her journey to becoming an educator.  Now, she pays that mentorship forward by promoting Physics education to all her students, hosting student teachers in her classroom, and mentoring new Physics teachers.

Throughout her 20-year career, Sriri-Perez has consistently worked to help students conquer their “phear of physics,” making it instead an accessible and exciting subject. Her efforts allowed her to double the size of the number of physics classes taught at McLane High School. When she started at Duncan, she built the physics program at Duncan Polytechnical High School from ground zero into a subject that is required, appreciated, and well-attended at Duncan.

Sriri-Perez is a champion for physics and physics education, and consistently shows her commitment by gaining funding for her classroom, seeking further training to improve her skills, and recruiting and mentoring student teachers looking to teach physics. Twice in her career, Sriri-Perez successfully wrote proposals that earned her a $10,000 grant for classroom equipment. She has attended numerous summer institutes to hone her teaching, and she has served as a master teacher for the Fresno Teacher Residency Program and mentored a number of student teachers who have since gone on to be successful teachers themselves. 

By all accounts, Sriri-Perez’s advocacy efforts and dedication to continuous improvement are outstanding, yet they are eclipsed by the incredible passion and care she has for her students. Her classroom is a haven, and her intentional and successful efforts to recruit and connect with students of all kinds has encouraged each of them to feel comfortable with physics. Indeed, many of her students go on to study physics at her alma mater, Fresno State.

For these accomplishments and more, we applaud Bouakham Sriri-Perez, PhysTEC’s 2020 National Teacher of the Year! To learn more, see the full press release.

2020 Local Teachers of the Year

In addition to Sriri-Perez’s selection as the National Teacher of the Year, we congratulate and thank the following Local Teachers of the Year, who strengthen the physics community by cultivating scientific curiosity in young minds.

  • Jonathan Welling: Wasatch High School, Brigham Young University 
  • Melissa Girmscheid: Centennial High School, Arizona State University
  • Janice Trinidad: Cedars International Next Generation High School, University of Texas, Austin
  • Margaret "Meg" Helmes: Williamsville Alternative Instructional Model (AIM) High School, SUNY Buffalo State College Department of Physics

Local Winners receive:

  • A certificate of achievement
  • A spotlight on our website and in press

National Winners also receive:

  • Speaking engagement and travel funding to the next Summer AAPT and PhysTEC Conference
  • Special recognition at the PhysTEC Conference
  • $1,000 classroom materials grant 

See all previous awardees

Teacher of the Year selection process


Teacher of the Year nominees must be:

  • Selected by a PhysTEC member institution,
  • A graduate of the selecting institution
  • An active high school science teacher with at least three years of experience in physics teaching, and
  • Able to demonstrate their significant positive impact on students’ learning and pursuit of physics

How to Apply:

  • PhysTEC member institutions may nominate only one teacher and must have done so by June 5. See Selection Guidelines.
  • After the nomination deadline, Local Teacher of the Year winners will be selected.
  • PhysTEC will notify local winners and encourage them to apply for the National Teacher of the Year prize.
  • Applicants for the National Teacher of the Year award must submit an application, including:
    • Applicant’s CV or resume
    • Letter of recommendation from applicant’s nominating institution
    • Letter of recommendation from applicant’s supervisor
    • Essay question responses describing the applicant’s outstanding efforts in teaching physics


Nominations and Applications for the 2020 Teacher of the Year will no longer be accepted. Please check back in Spring 2021 to nominate one of your alumni for the Teacher of the Year award.

Contact with questions about the Teacher of the Year selection process.