ISAAPT Outstanding High School
Physics Teacher Nominations
2008-2009

The following information pertains to the candidates for the ISAAPT Outstanding High School Physics Teacher of the Year Award. We received two forms for each candidate: (1) Nomination and (2) Candidate Information.  Please read this document and e-mail your top three choices to Cliff Parker (cparker@charter.net) by March 6, 2009.  Please number your choices.

 1.  Jeff Benter, Tri-Valley High School, Downs
 2.  Fred Harth, Belleville East High School, Belleville
 3.  Kris Kleeman-Hartoin, Triad High School, Troy
 4.  Deborah Lojkutz, Joliet West High School, Joliet
 5.  Shannon Mandel, Barrington High School, Barrington
 6.  Diane Riendeau, Deerfield High School, Deerfield
 7.  Jay Walgren, Libertyville High School, Libertyville
 8.  Matt Zimolzak, William Fremd High School, Palatine

Here are the seven questions that were asked of each candidate.

1. Briefly state your teaching philosophy
2. In what way are you an outstanding physics teacher?
3. Tell us about the impact your teaching has had on your students.
4. What have you done for professional development during the past 5 years?
5. How have you assisted other teachers (or teacher candidates) in their professional development?
6. How have you incorporated state and national science teaching standards in your teaching?
7. Tell us something about your teaching innovations.



1.  Jeff Benter, Tri-Valley High School, Downs

Nomination

Jeff Benter (7 years)
503 East Washington
Downs, IL 61736
3093782911
jbenter@tri-valley.k12.il.us

Nomination letter:

A few years ago, our high school developed a set of values that guide the functions of our school. One of our values is innovation. Jeff Benter is one of the most innovative teachers that I have ever worked with as a building principal. He works hard to develop big experiences for our small school students. His physics lessons are creative and exciting. His activities are outstanding and appreciated by his students. In addition, Jeff is involved in professional development, and has worked hard to become an excellent teacher with amazing content knowledge. If this award is meant to recognize quality, innovative instruction from excellent teachers, please seriously consider Jeff Benter for the award.

Nominated by:

David Mouser, Supervisor (Building Principal)
dmouser@tri-valley.k12.il.us
Nov. 3, 2008

Candidate Information

Jeff Benter (7 years)
503 E. Washington St.
Downs, IL 61736
(309) 378-2911
jbenter@tri-valley.k12.il.us
Dec. 12, 2008

Question 1:

My teaching philosophy rests on 3 basic pillars: everyone can learn something (about physics or otherwise), science (and especially physics) is very relevant to everyday life and experiences, and students learn better when they are actively engaged.

Some students can master practically everything you can give them, while others struggle with the basic concepts. Nevertheless, every student can learn on some level, and so it's important to provide a variety of instruction using different methods and at different levels. What makes this easier (and much more enjoyable) to do is that physics is EVERYWHERE! Everyone experiences physics every moment of every day. We can help train our students to open their eyes to this experience and see the physics for themselves, whether that be in a detailed mathematical model of motion, or simply some logical statements of cause and effect of forces. Lastly, this universality of physics helps make it more enjoyable to experience and learn. I am a proponent of "edutainment" although class is no stand-up comedy routine, learning is fun and rewarding, and I try to supplement that intrinsic enjoyment with vivid examples, problems, and demonstrations to help engage those students who might not yet have discovered their own enjoyment of learning.

Question 2:

Ah, trick question! I'm not! Not anymore than most of my colleagues, that is. Like most drawn to this profession, I share a deep concern for the well-being and success of the students, both academically and personally. I try very hard to develop a good rapport with them and to discover their interests and strengths, and then adapt instruction accordingly. I try to make class interesting, enjoyable, memorable, and effective, by using creative problems (including monsters at Halloween and a plethora of Star Wars characters during the units on forces) and lively demos (the usual rollerblades, carts, medicine balls, hovercrafts, Asteroids arcade games, and tablecloths full of breakable dishes during our discussion of inertia, for example). I'm open to trying things out, and adapt them accordingly to achieve better success next time. Like the students, I'm constantly learning, too, and my class is definitely a work in progress.

Question 3:

This, of course, is something that's difficult to measure. Measured in terms of students who went on to become engineers, my impact has not been great. Measured in terms of positive experiences, attitudes, and memories of science, hopefully I've had better luck. I frequently have students come back to me and reminisce about old times: bridges built, rockets launched in snowstorms, a trebuchet tested, and other new experiences for them. I sincerely hope that my class helps prepare students for college physics and other coursework, but I also acknowledge that many of my students will never take another physics class in their life. This is both an opportunity and a challenge: I want my class to be a learning experience, but I also want it to be an enjoyable experience, so that they might re-consider their options in the future when they have the opportunity to take another physics class.

Question 4:

Considering I've only been teaching for 7 years, I've hopefully developed considerably during that time, thanks to several workshops and conferences I've been too. My most valuable one was without a doubt the "Modeling Workshop" I went to at ISU for 3 summers, as hosted by Carl Wenning. The discussions, materials, and make-n-takes were an invaluable resource to me and really shored up my content knowledge and my pedagogical methods. My second large-scale professional development opportunity is the current, 5-year chemistry program I'm enrolled in through the University of Illinois that emphasizes computational methods in the teaching of chemistry. I do find technology (especially simulations) an incredibly useful resource, especially in the abstract fields of chemistry and physics. I'm hoping to gain much in this program. Apart from those, I've attended the usual smatterings of one-day workshops, including an AP Chemistry workshop, a particle physics workshop at Fermilab, and, most recently, the "Raising student Achievement" conference hosted by the ROE's. I'm always open to new sources and new ideas that might be coming in the future.

Question 5:

I'm the only physics teacher in our school, so I don't have much opportunity in that respect. I do, however, sometimes assist the 8th grade Physical Science teacher with a project idea, a presentation to her classes on science and engineering, and the sharing of chemicals and materials. We also hired a new chemistry teacher last year and the two of us collaborated extensively in our planning while he established his curriculum. I have hosted observing students from colleges on occasion, although I've never had a student teacher. I am, however, considering that possibility in the future.

Question 6:

Our district has recently starting mapping the curriculum of our classes, so, as a first step, I had to delineate the content, skills, and knowledge my classes taught. In comparing these and the other science classes' curricula to the state standards, however, we realized that we were omitting a significant part of Earth and Space Science. I was one of the first proponents of a new class devoted to Earth and Space Science, and I started teaching our first two classes of Earth and Space Science this year. Thus the state standards (and the AAAS Benchmarks) are valuable minimum goals to set, although it's always best to surpass your goals.

Question 7:

As I stated earlier, my class is a work in progress: I'm always looking for a better demo, a better lab, or even a better problem. I enjoy using technology (especially computer simulations) to help illustrate a concept, but I also like to use as many real-world examples as I can. Thus I search for video games that accurately show physics concepts (like "Kevin the Spaced Penguin" for Kepler's laws). I look for clips from movies that show physics (good or bad), and have a "Physics in the Media" project where students identify their own game or movie clip, make estimations, perform calculations, and analyze the "correctness" and feasibility of the physics shown. Of course, nothing can replace the tangible objects and demonstrations, so it's always useful to have a good supply of rollerblades, strings, and balls around. And I try to modify the tried-and-true in new and different ways. For example, one of my favorite labs is the "Ring of Fire" students calculate the height of a ball launched from a table top at various distances, place an iron ring at that height and distance, and then I place an ethanol- and salt-soaked rag on the ring and light it up. The students are always amazed that "Physics really works!" when the ball (after a few alignment attempts) sails through all 6 blazing rings and lands with a BANG! on the nitrogen triiodide at the end of its trajectory. And with that, thanks for your consideration.


 
2.  Fred Harth, Belleville East High School, Belleville
 

Nomination

Fred Harth (32 years)
1068 Flora Lake Court
Shiloh, IL 62221-8315
618-222-3750
fharth@bths201.org

Nomination letter:

As an administrator who is in the classroom on a daily basis, I have had the privilege of observing a number of outstanding instructors. One of the most outstanding instructors I have had the privilege observing has been Mr. Fred Harth, physics teacher at Belleville East High School. Mr. Harth is an outstanding educator who daily challenges students to achieve their maximum potential as both a student and an individual.

In the classroom, Mr. Harth works diligently to provide students outstanding educational opportunities in his physics program. His creative learning experiences challenge and engage students to excel in his classroom preparing them for their college experiences. The best testimonial I can provide to demonstrate this are my many conversations with East graduates who return from college to visit our campus. During those conversations students always rave about how well they are doing in their college physics classes. These outstanding students attribute a lot of their college success to the breadth and depth of Mr. Harth's physics class.

It has been my privilege to work with a number of outstanding physics instructors through my 30 year teaching and administrative career. Mr. Fred Harth certainly ranks as one of those top instructors. I emphatically recommend him as a candidate for the Illinois Section of the American Association of Physics Teachers of Year Award.

Nominated by:

David Kniepkamp, Administrator
dkniepkamp@bths201.org

Candidate Information

Fred Harth (32 years)
1068 Flora Lake Ct.
Shiloh, IL 62221-8315
618-632-3722
fizicsfred85@att.net

Question 1:

A teacher is a person who gives of their knowledge. Not just knowledge of subject, but knowledge of life as well. I view teaching as a way of giving back, of adding to the whole. How can man advance without each person adding something to the collective. I feel that I have been given a gift, a gift of understanding and the ability to pass on that understanding. So if I can positively effect the life of just one person, I have not failed. But to succeed I must effect as many as I can. Hopefully developing in that student an understanding of the physical world and instilling in them the curiosity to understand more. I must also help them develop the skills necessary to eventually find understanding on their own. A "life-long learner" is one who has the ability to obtain knowledge on his or her own. This is what I TRY to do. This is my "philosophy of teaching".

Question 2:

I feel that I have an excellent knowledge of the subject and can communicate that knowledge in a clear, logical and enjoyable way. I have fun teaching physics and my students should have fun learning it. You know, "physics is phun"!!! I also strive to provide our students with the best learning environment that is possible. That includes one of the most up-to-date laboratory facilities in this part of the state. Our 14-station lab is as good, if not better than most of the colleges in our area. This has been an on going project of mine dating back to the early 90's (you can look up my nomination paper from 1995 to see where we started). We now have P-III computers (donated) equipped with the latest Vernier LabPro interfaces and an extensive assortment of probes and sensors (through scrimping, saving and a small lab fee). The scope of our investigations is now only limited by the imagination. Our entire physics staff (3 of us) seems to keep finding new ways to use this equipment to bring physics home for our students. That's the great thing about teaching physics. It can be the best of both worlds, hands on and/or paper, pencil and calculator.

Question 3:

I just checked to see how many college recommendations that I have written. Since 1996 I have written 159. [I had a Commodore 64 before that and never transferred any of those old files to my PC, so that's as far back as I could check.] The majority of those went for students entering fields in science or engineering. That comes to roughly 15 students per year. There are many more that never need or ask for a recommendation. Since I usually average around 25 seniors per year, I can safely say that 60-75% of my students go on to fields in science or engineering. Of that group there are 8 PhD's and 3 Doctors, that I know of. In my communications with many of these students, they seem to feel that they were more than adequately prepared for their adventures in college physics and/or engineering.

Question 4:

My professional development on the collegiate level has consisted of summer workshops and graduate education courses. I have gained most of my useful professional development from reading and networking with colleagues. The Internet has a wealth of information and ideas that I use regularly.

Question 5:

On almost a daily basis, our physics staff trades thoughts and ideas about our current curriculum. Since I'm about 15 years older in the tooth than either of my colleagues, I offer some insights when necessary (and when sought). But I have probably gained as much by seeing things through their youthful eyes as well. I have had ONE student teacher in my 32 years of teaching. He has gone on to become a very successful physics teacher at our sister school, Belleville West.

Question 6:

My teaching standards are simple. Find what is being taught in college freshman physics courses and prepare them for that. If my students are succeeding in college, than my standards are "aligned".

Question 7:

The only innovation that I can think of would be what I have nicknamed the "Mega-Work Equation". It is a unified way of handling work-energy problems. [You can find it on my course website http://209.7.209.84/harth/physics56hby clicking on the "CHAPTER INDEX" button, then the "Chapter #4 - Energy" button, followed by clicking on the "Deriving the MegaWork Equation" button.] I guess I also have a fairly extensive set of websites that I have created over the years [ http://209.7.209.84/harth ]. Not exactly groundbreaking, but very useful.



3. Kris Kleeman-Hartoin, Triad High School, Troy
 

Nomination

Kris Kleeman-Hartoin (14 years)
703 E. Highway 40
Troy, Illinois 62294
618-667-8851
kristina.kleeman@triadunit2.org

Nomination letter:

I am writing this letter to highly recommend Kris Kleeman-Hartoin to your committee for consideration as a recipient of the Outstanding High School Physics Teacher in Illinois. Mrs. Kleeman-Hartoin is an exceptional high school physics teacher who has taught Biology, Honors Chemistry I, and Honors Physics at Triad High School for the past fourteen school years. She has repeatedly demonstrated her mastery of physics and has been able to relate her practical knowledge of physics through lectures, demonstrations, and laboratory activities in a format that high school students can understand and learn.

She spends countless hours preparing for the labs and demonstrations that are so important for a well-taught science lesson. Her lessons are presented in a very sequential nature, using different learning modalities to provide for individual differences. Mrs. Kleeman-Hartoin makes use of every instructional minute while maintaining her students' interest in having fun learning science. In addition to her classroom teaching, Mrs. Kleeman-Hartoin serves as the varsity girls' basketball coach, and sponsors the National Honor Society at Triad High School.

Nominated by:

Bob Sudhoff, Principal Triad HS
robert.sudhoff@triadunit2.org
Dec. 11, 2008

Candidate Information

Kristina Kleeman-Hartoin (15 years)
513 Avalon Drive
Troy, Illinois 62294
618 667 5409 x 7246
kristina.kleeman@TRIADUNIT2.ORG
Jan. 6, 2009

Question 1:

There is a familiar saying by an unknown author that states "The objective of teaching is to enable the student to get along without the teacher." There is no greater goal in teaching than to teach a student to independently problem solve while at the same time challenge them to develop an appreciation of the world around them and to have faith in their own unique abilities. In addition to educating students, it is also the objective of the teacher to relay to the students the importance of being a good human being. Education provides a means to all of those ends. If a student can do those things, the carryover into all aspects of their lives will be tremendous.

Question 2:

Outstanding teachers have several characteristics inherent to them regardless of their subject matter, and if you were to ask any number of students, you would likely get the same general responses. When I think back at the outstanding teachers I have had throughout my education, I find similar reoccurring themes. They make learning fun. They care about me and want me to be successful. They are really intelligent. They love what they do. I possess these same qualities, although some days it seems a bit more challenging to display them. I absolutely love what I do. There has never been a day when I have not wanted to teach. I try to challenge my students in physics by encouraging independent thinking. I further challenge them with outside, hands-on projects that will help develop more than just basic textbook skills. I try to make learning fun with labs, demonstrations, discussions, movies, computer simulations, whatever I can use to get them interested. I get to know each of my students and want them to succeed in physics, their other classes and beyond. I always tell them they will come back and thank me for challenging them once they get to college. Most do.

Question 3:

All of us have stories of students whom we have impacted throughout the years. Ones that are special and tell us how important we have been to them. They are the ones that come back to see you during their college breaks or send you an email to thank you. I have had many, many of those throughout my years teaching at Triad. But impacts can be made on all students whether we know it or not. Last week I had a young man who is now twenty-six call me at my home and request to come and visit me. I was slightly taken aback, since this particular student was very challenging for me when I had him in class. None-the-less he came to visit. At my kitchen table, over Cokes, he relayed to me, with shaking hands, that he was very sorry for his behavior in my class when he was seventeen. Then he said, "I thought, I think, you are a very, very, good teacher, and you are the reason I have decided to become a teacher myself." He then proceeded to thank me for a few of the assignments I had made, one being the reading of 'Fahrenheit 451'by Ray Bradbury. He said it had a very profound impact on him. I was completely taken aback. Had he not told me, I would have never known the impact that I had on him nine years ago. I am glad he did.

Question 4:

I have received my Master's in Education from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. I have also taken several classes on advanced physics topics at SIUE through their No Child Left Behind grant program. I am also the Science Department Chair at Triad and have served on the Advanced Education committee for school accreditation.

Question 5:

Triad school district has a mentoring program for newly hired teachers. I have served as a mentor for several years now. Mentoring involves meeting with the new teachers regularly to discuss any problems that may surface or procedures that are new. In addition, several classroom visits are required by the mentor. I have also been part of the evaluation committee for Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville's Teacher Quality grant program and have traveled with them to the Illinois Bureau of Higher Education to discuss teacher quality in Southern Illinois.

Question 6:

The science department has been very active in incorporating state and national standards into the curriculum at Triad. We have met over the summer to develop implementation plans that target assignments to meet standards. Physics has been studied to ensure that the topics covered throughout the year satisfy state standards. I have also been involved with developing a curriculum maps for the department as well as curriculum study to make sure we are meeting the national and state standards in all science classes.

Question 7:

I try to incorporate a large variety of media to target different learning modalities and make it fun. Delivery can include anything from computer simulations, to watching movie clips to determine the jump angle of the car in "Gone in 60 Seconds." Traditional modes are also used, overheads, notes, lecture, and lab. I am constantly trying to find new and inventive ideas to help supplement ideas. This year we tested relaunch-able rockets to determine maximum range and flight time. Perhaps the most innovative idea I use is the assigning of monthly out-of-class projects. Once a month the students are given a project to be done on their own time. The project typically supplements a concept being taught within the same time frame. Then, on the assigned day, a competition is held to see which project performs the best. Projects range from mousetrap cars that must travel four meters and stop to marble mazes which must keep a marble moving for thirty seconds or more. The projects culminate at the end of the year with the building of a cardboard boat. The students, in groups of four or more, design and build a boat constructed completely of cardboard, glue, and paint. We then choose a Sunday in May and launch them at the city park. It is really a great end-of-the year project. I have been told by some that it is the only reason they take my class. One year a student commented to me, "I can't believe you would give up your Sunday to come out here and do this with us. This is the most fun I have had in high school. Thank you." That's really what it's all about.



 4.  Deb Lojkutz, Joliet West High School, Joliet
 

Nomination

Deborah Lojkutz (20 plus years)
401 N. Larkin Ave
Joliet, IL 60436
815-727-6950
dlojkutz@jths.org

Nomination letter:

I would like to nominate Deborah Lojkutz of Joliet West High School for the Illinois Outstanding High School Physics Teacher Award. Deborah has been an active member of both the ISAAPT and the Chicago Area section of the AAPT holding a number of positions for both organizations. She is an excellent role model to her students as well as to other physics teachers.

I first met Deborah when I began attending ISAAPT meetings in 1989. I can not remember ever attending a meeting where she did not give at least a Take 5 presentation. Whenever I have attended Physics Day at Great America with my students, Deborah has been volunteering at the Data Vest site. Her ability to work with both teachers and students on how to use and interpret the data they collect has been inspirational. Deborah has also demonstrated a willingness to improve her teaching methods. During the Summer of 2000 Deborah attended the week long Comprehensive Conceptual Curriculum for Physics (C3P) workshop at Rock Island High School. Her enthusiasm and willingness to try new activities was extremely helpful. Last summer I attended the Modern Physics Workshop at FermiLab. Part of the day was spent rotating through various workshops. The last one I attended was conducted by her. In an hour I learned two new strategies that helped my students better understand Millikan's Oil Drop experiment and half life.

I strongly recommend Deborah for the Outstanding Physics Teacher of Illinois award. Her devotion to teaching has impacted more than just the students who are lucky enough to have her as their teacher.

Nominated by:

Gary Wolber, physics teacher/friend
gdwppsm@aol.com

Candidate Information

Deborah L. Lojkutz (18 years)
811 Willow Ct.
Shorewood, IL 60404
815-729-3449
dlojkutz@jths.org

Question 1:

My philosophy of teaching Physics is that students MUST experience Physics first in order to gain an understanding of it. Physics Phenomenon must be presented to the students by means of a lab or demo. The lab activities should be inquiry based. Don't tell the students the answer they are trying to find. Let the students discover the results. On the day after the lab, tie everything together by discussing the theory and how to solve the problems. A Physics class should be an active learning environment and Physics should be phun.

Question 2:

I feel that I am an outstanding physics teacher because I truly care about my students. I want them to succeed in all their classes. I take the time to make sure that they understand what we are covering. I am available to help them during, before and after class. I also feel that my students are challenged in my classes. They have to work to get that A. My class requires them to think and problem solve. Memorizing is just not enough. Some students have a hard time with this in the beginning, but most appreciate learning these skills in the long run. Lastly I take the time to read, grade and comment on their all lab reports. They know I feel what they write is important and they put in that extra effort to think through what they are writing. As a result I feel they learn more.

Question 3:

Each year, our students fill out an evaluation of us for the administration. Recently I was given copies of my student's comments. I was impressed by the number of comments I got that said they appreciated that I took the time to help. Many felt that I made a subject that they thought to be hard, easy to understand. I made the subject fun. One said my class was a lot of work, but they learned a lot, too. In general, the impact I have on my students is that they know I care about them and I am willing to take the time to help them succeed in my class.

Question 4:

I have been an active member and officer of both the Illinois and Chicago Sections of AAPT for over 15 years. I try to share something I feel is useful at every section meeting I attend. I also participate in the monthly ISPP and Physics West meetings in the Chicago area. Sharing ideas with fellow Physics teachers is the best form of professional development. Also two summers ago I took a week-long workshop on teaching AP Physic at Loyola.

Question 5:

From 2000-2005, I taught a teaching methods class each quarter for National Louis University's MAT program. My students where adults who already had a degree and had worked in a career outside of education, but were returning to school to get teacher certification and a Masters in Teaching. My students where all planning to teach Physics, Chemistry, or Earth/Space Science.

I am currently the senior Physics teacher in my district. I have been a member of the Science Subject Area Committee and wrote the curriculums and district goal tests for each of our three levels of Physics. I am currently assembling binders of labs, activities, problems and other resources for use by all our Physics teachers in teaching our curriculum.

Question 6:

The Joliet High School District started a curriculum alignment project in 2000. The purpose of this project was to align all classes in all subject areas across the district with state and national standards. As a member of my district's Science Subject Area committee I was responsible for aligning and writing the curriculum for each of our three levels of Physics. As part of this project I worked with other science teachers from the district to make sure that all state science standard are incorporated in our curriculum.

Question 7:

Every day I start my class with a Question of the Day (Q of D). Typically it is a problem related to their homework, the lab they are about to do or the lab they just completed. I allow the students to talk with each other about the Q of D, but I limit how much time they get to complete it (typically 3 to 5 minutes). To save paper, the students use the same sheet of paper each day. I collect, discuss and grade the Q of D every day. In doing so, I am able to see the student's level of understanding, it gets the students on task, and provides a starting point for the day's activities.

I have also created many lab activities and demos to introduce Physics topics to my students. I believe that they must experience Physics in order to learn and appreciate it.



5.  Shannon Mandel, Barrington High School, Barrington

Nomination

Shannon Mandel (6 years)
616 West Main St
Barrington, IL 60010
847-842-3268
smandel@cusd220.org

Nomination letter:

Shannon has taught all levels of Physics here at Barrington High School. She has had success teaching at the regular, honors, and AP-B level. She is creative when it comes to developing meaningful learning experiences for her students. The learning experiences that she develops do not just focus on content acquisition, but rather experiencing the physics concepts and trying to understand how these concepts play out in the real world. She works collaboratively and cooperatively with other science teachers at the local, state, and national level and is committed to sharing her ideas as well as learning new ideas from other physics teachers.

Shannon is active in the American Association Of Physics Teachers and has published a few articles for their magazine. She currently serves on the High School Committee and attends all of the meetings. She co-wrote a publication that outlines roles, qualifications, and education needed to be a physics teacher for the association. She is in charge of ACT testing here at our high school and does a great job. You can see that she is passionate about what she does and is always seeking ways to improve as a teacher and a professional.

Shannon works extremely hard to develop appropriate relationships with her students and runs her classroom on the foundation of mutual respect. Students are comfortable with taking risks as learners in her classroom and this leads to in depth learning where students can challenge one another's ideas in a safe setting. Shannon typically rolls up her sleeves and learns right along with them and is quite adept at asking probing questions. She constantly assesses student progress and changes her instructional methods to suite their needs. Shannon has clearly distinguished herself as someone that is worthy of being named an outstanding physics educator in our state.

Nominated by:

Mark Gilbert, Direct Supervisor
mgilbert@cusd220.org
Nov. 6, 2008

Candidate Information

Shannon Mandel (6 years)
616 W Main Street
Barrington, IL 60010
847-842-3417
smandel@cusd220.org
Jan. 26, 2009

Question 1:

I believe that students learn best by constructing their own knowledge with teacher support. I try to make the lessons relevant to the student's lives and meaningful to them. I understand that students may not remember all of the facts presented in the class, but I do want them to learn how to look at the world scientifically. I think physics is a great place for students to learn how to solve problems and apply what they learn to real life situations. I like to learn along with my students and am excited to grow along with them.

Question 2:

I work hard to establish close relationships with my students. I think that class atmosphere is hugely important so the students can have a learning environment where they feel safe to take risks and try new things. I encourage students to ask and answer each others questions. I want the students to participate in their learning of the information to make it a part of them. I encourage questions, bring in guest speakers in different fields of study. I use technology as a supplement, along with using toys, games, and the playground equipment at my school provided for physics labs.

Question 3:

My goal is to make my students physics nerds, just like me! I love to hear them come in and tell me about how they slammed on their brakes, their backpack went flying, and they yelled - "Inertia!" I want students to be fascinated with how the world works and to be interested in understanding it at a deeper level. I want them to come in and tell me about the Mythbusters episode they watched that reminded them of class, or the website they spent their Saturday afternoon looking at that had information on using conservation of momentum to find missing particles at Fermi. Having my students choose physics, engineering and especially physics education as majors in college is incredibly rewarding, but I also just enjoy getting students who don't typically enjoy math and science to realize that it can be interesting and they can be good at it if they try.

Question 4:

I have attended numerous workshops, conferences and meetings. I am a member of a local physics share group called Physics NorthWest. I have regularly attended meetings, presented at meetings, and hosted meetings. I have attended the Chicago section of the AAPT and took a workshop through them. I also am a member of AAPT. For the last 3 years I have been on the high school committee. Last year I was the vice-chair of the committee and this year I will be the chair. I have presented at the national meetings and attended both summer and winter meetings since my first year teaching. This summer I presented my first workshop on Low Cost Labs with Diane Riendeau and Jim Hicks. I earned my Masters Degree in Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment in 2005.

Question 5:

I was asked to mentor a new teacher at my high school my third year teaching there. We work together as a team to create curriculum and creative ways of engaging the students. I have written or coauthored 3 articles for The Physics Teacher. One on discussion strategies, one on mentoring, and one on our group's pilgrimage to the Tacoma Narrows Bridge while at the Seattle meeting. I have proctored fellow teachers exams for their Masters coursework. I am currently working on a document for the AAPT on Roles, Qualifications, and Education of a High School Physics Teacher so people hiring new staff know how to evaluate candidates, and so candidates know what is being expected of them.

Question 6:

I do a lot of guided inquiry in my teaching. The unit we are on right now is wireless communications. I started the unit asking the students what wireless devices they use and what questions they wanted to answer by the end of the unit. I also have used problem based learning in my curriculum to have real world problems influence why to learn about physics. I wrote our school's curriculum map for honors and regular physics to make sure that we were hitting state and national standards in both curriculum and to make sure that each class got similar content instruction.

Question 7:

students become comfortable with the new material and are able to internalize it. I have strived to use educational strategies like think, pair, chair, talking chips, and whiteboarding so the students have a guide for how to relate information to each other. I use current events to add to curriculum. I have students bring in articles from the papers, take pictures, and build bridges with WestPoint's online competition to get them involved in physics outside of class. I also keep a website with daily activity, links to resources, and a discussion board so the students can communicate with each other outside of class. I am fortunate to be at Barrington High School and to have mentors like Jim Hicks, Diane Riendeau, Chris Chiaverina who value the learning cycle, and hands on learning. I have learned from them to value the same educational philosophy and how to implement it in my class.



6. Diane Riendeau, Deerfield High School, Deerfield

Nomination

Diane Riendeau (20 years)
1959 Waukegan Road
Deerfield, IL 60015
224-632-3288
driendeau@dist113.org

Nomination letter:

To Whom It May Concern:

Diane Riendeau is a master teacher and excellent mentor. I have had the pleasure of working with her for the past three years at Deerfield High School. Deerfield High School is in its second year of a Freshman Physics program. It is Deerfield High School's goal to provide physics for all and now the majority of our freshman students take physics as their first science course. As a result, many teachers, including me, have had to become Physics teachers even though we are non-physics majors. I feel grateful for having Diane - a twenty-year veteran Physics teacher - a step away to help us through our growing pains in the early years of our freshman program.

One of Diane's philosophies is that high school physics curricula should be concepts driven instead of math-driven and hands-on instead of lecture-based. This way students walk away with lived physics experiences. This philosophy is especially applicable to high school freshman who are still children at heart and enjoy learning by doing and playing. Throwing math at a group of students whose math skills are underdeveloped would be counterproductive to our school's goal of providing physics for all.

Lived physics experiences help students solidify and internalize the concepts. One of the strategies Diane uses to provide students with the opportunity to internalize concepts are activities called Make it-Take it-Teach its. Make-and-Takes, as we call them, are projects where students make a physics object like a mini CD hovercraft, "play" with it to learn and discover how it works, and then take it home to teach family members the concepts. As teachers, we all know that to teach it is to learn it.

When we piloted the Freshman Physics program before we officially made the change to our course catalog, Diane encouraged me and other future Freshman Physics teachers to incorporate Make-and-Takes in our classrooms. She realized that this would be hard for us if we never made these objects ourselves. Consequently, she began Friday Make-and-Take Mornings where she supplied us with the materials to make several of her Make-and-Take projects.

On one Friday morning, four other Freshman Physics teachers and I learned how to make mini CD hovercrafts while Diane walked us through the ways she uses this to teach inertia and dynamic equilibrium. I tried this Make-and-Take with my freshman classes this year and received very positive reactions from both students and parents. One student said, "I believe this helped teach us the idea of dynamic equilibrium because it is using an actual, physical example of how this works instead of just pictures in a book." This student's parent said, "The experiment gave a good, brief, interactive physics lesson at home. The discussion helped reinforce the learning experience." This is surely a testament to the educational benefits of Make-and-Takes in the Freshman Physics classroom. When teaching time is already precious, I make sure to carve out time to do these worthwhile and meaningful projects so that my students can appreciate physics in simple but engaging ways.

I am truly honored to have the opportunity to nominate Diane Riendeau for the ISAAPT Outstanding High School Physics Teacher Award

Sincerely,

Jaime Stasiorowski, Physics Teacher

Nominated by:

Jaime Stasiorowski, Colleague/Mentee
jstasiorowski@dist113.org
Nov. 10, 2008

Candidate Information

Diane Riendeau (21 years)
3 Cortland Circle
Lake Zurich, IL 60047
847-726-1317
driendeau@dist113.org
Nov. 25, 2008

Question 1:

I believe that students enter my classroom with a basic knowledge of physics. It is my job to help them develop a framework and learn new applications for this knowledge. I also must fervently confront their misconceptions. I also must teach them how to think scientifically. I must show them that physics is very relevant to their everyday lives. I believe in using the learning cycle to achieve these goals.

Students must learn the concepts first. I try to achieve this goal by designing explorations at the beginning of each unit. I get my students actively involved in their own learning. In the beginning, there are no wrong answers as we simply begin a quest to make observations. Later, the students can discuss their observations and begin to develop an understanding of the concepts at hand. Since you must understand a topic to teach it, I often ask my students to teach a concept to a parent or friend.

I believe that you must teach to the many learning styles or intelligences. In each unit, I try to design one lesson for each of the intelligences. I try to have a "creative" activity each unit where students build or design something. I make the learning very personal using practical applications.

I tell my students each year that my goals is to, "make nerds out of them."  I want them to leave Physics looking at the world through different eyes. I want them to see Physics all around them.

Question 2:

I am an outstanding physics teacher because I am constantly trying new ideas and seeking out new labs for my students to use. I like to design new curriculum each year based on new toys or equipment I have come across. I am constantly trying to grow in my physics and teaching knowledge. I read many journals and attend numerous physics meetings throughout the year because I always come away with something new that I can bring to my classroom. Like my students, I try to learn during each unit. I am not afraid to try something new if I believe it will benefit my students' understanding.

I focus on student understanding. I use toys, technology and everyday items to get my point across. I build models, find audio-visual resources, whatever it takes to make certain that my students get a good conceptual understanding of the topic before moving on. I consider a day of lecture a bad day. I try to develop ways to actively involve students in their own learning.

Since I teach the lower level of Physics, I understand that the majority of my students will not become engineers. Most of my students have struggled with science and will tell you they "hate science." I hope to change their view of science by making science relevant to their lives. I try to establish close relationships with my students and show them that I value them whether or not they are stars in the class.

Question 3:

I have chosen to teach the lowest level of physics taught at my school. Many of my students have struggled with science since freshman year and the come to my classroom with a low "science esteem." As the year progresses, these students are often amazed at their own ability to "get" science. They see that they do have the ability to understand science. I think this helps them have the confidence to tackle other challenges in their lives.

Many of my students come back from college and thank me because I believed in them. My students are not the "cream of the crop" in high school. They are kids that struggle with school and often life in general. In my classroom, they tell me, they feel safe. They feel successful. These students are not going to go on to become engineers, but they are people who are no longer afraid of science.

My students know that I love Physics and high school students. They say that my enthusiasm in the classroom is contagious. I certainly hope so! I want my students to leave my classroom excited about science. I want them to leave feeling good about themselves and marveling at the world around them!

Question 4:

In the past five years I have done quite a bit of professional development. I have taken numerous courses in both physics and education. I have completed 9 hours of physics coursework, with the University of Virginia and 3 hours of Earth Science graduate work. I have also completed 12 hours of graduate level education classes.

I regularly read The Physics Teacher and Physics Education. I have written several articles for The Physics Teacher and an article for Physics Education.

I attend both the summer and winter national AAPT conferences, in the past five years, with the exception of the summer conference in Greensboro. I served as a member of the High School committee for 3 years and am currently on the Pre-High School committee.

I regularly attend Physics Northwest (a sharing group in the NW suburbs of Chicago) and have attended the past 3 CSAAPT conferences.

Question 5:

I enjoy mentoring young teachers. I have been the cooperating teacher for 3 student teachers. I have formally mentored more than 5 teachers. I have informally mentored several female physics teachers from other schools who approached me to help them. They came to observe my classroom for a day and we met a few times so that I could encourage and help them.

When Deerfield HS switched to Freshman Physics, I mentored 5 teachers (new to physics but not teaching). I established Friday Morning Physics where those teachers came in and made items to use in their classrooms. For example, we made a class set of palm pipes and discussed how they work. I made teacher notes, equipment lists and exploration notes for the units taught in Freshman Physics. I continue to informally mentor these teachers.

I have given numerous presentations at AAPT, CSAAPT and Shanghai Science Association conferences. I wrote many articles in The Physics Teacher and Physics Education. I have given 2 workshops. I co-presented at the AAPT in Edmonton "Low Cost High School Physics Labs" and "How to Teach Color" at the CSAAPT this fall.

This summer I traveled to Zambia with a team of teachers. We gave teacher workshops to teachers in an area that is ravaged by AIDS and poverty. I spent 10 days running workshops with these teachers. We taught them how to lesson plan, multiple intelligences, ways to teach science with no equipment and more.

Question 6:

In my classroom, we spend time exercising each of the goals on the Illinois State Standards. We apply our learning to practical examples, emerging technology and everyday life. We make candles during our refraction unit. I ask my students to come back to school on Monday with new ways they saw the physics concept we were working on in class. We solve problems and sometimes use problems as a basis for our learning. I use a problem-based unit to teach basic electricity, for example. We communicate in small groups and make group presentations before the class. The communication can be verbal, written or in some other form deemed appropriate. We use technology when it is the best way for the students to gain knowledge. We work in teams on a regular basis and I emphasize the importance of each team member in the group process. I try to teach as much through an inquiry process as possible. I enjoy giving students labs without procedures to see if they can figure them out on their own.

Looking at the basis for the National Standards, it is easy to see how I incorporate them in my classroom. I try to teach students in many different ways. I hope that one way will "click" with each student. I am passionate about physics and teenagers and I think my students see that in my teaching. I allow my students to construct their knowledge through the use of explorations.

Question 7:

I am insecure in answering this question because I fear that what I might believe I innovated might not be new at all. Education is a community of sharing and I hope that I do not offend anyone or claim something as my own when it is not so. I owe credit to others for so many of the good ideas I use in my classroom!!

I have designed a few lab activities which I believe are new. When teaching color, I devised a way to mix inks to make the primary colors using the principle of color by subtraction. I devised a color by numbers template and questions. I use this as my assessment in the color unit. I noticed that gel candles refracted light quite well and that they were also very easy to make. I made an activity where the students create the candles and place a nail in the candle, at an angle. They take these candles home and teach their parents about refraction. I saw an ad on TV for a new toy called "Line Chasers." I promptly ordered a few and realized that they made a great inquiry lab for freshman students. I devised a lab where the students designed their own experiments to determine how the cars worked.



7. Jay Walgren, Libertyville High School, Libertyville

Nomination

Jay Walgren (15 years)
2296 High Point Drive
Lindenhurst, IL 60046
(847)-265-5607
jay.walgren@d128.org

Nomination letter:

As Mr. Jay Walgren's supervisor over the past 5 years, I have had the honor and pleasure of observing him, a master teacher and an outstanding professional. Through his own professional development, accomplishments and teaching innovations Jay is a role model for other educators. He is a school improvement project coordinator for incorporating state and national standards into the science department curriculum, the chosen teacher representative for district's innovative teaching grant committee, a Physics Northwest workshop and national conference presenter and published author. In addition to past recognitions, he was recently published in Mathematics Teacher and The Physics Teacher. Most recently, Jay was named Illinois' winning teacher in the 10th Annual 2007-08 Siemens Awards for Advanced Placement, sponsored by the Siemens Foundation.

Mr. Walgren possesses many outstanding qualities as a teacher, coach, and character educator. He is an outstanding master teacher. Jay demonstrates a strong mastery of the art and science of teaching. He possesses great charisma, ability and creativity that inspires and engages diverse groups of students in his AP Physics B courses to be very successful. Jay is a highly motivated, collaborative, professional, intelligent, and technologically savvy teacher. These characteristics can be witnessed on a daily basis upon interacting with him. From his work on student achievement as a member of the school improvement team to his classroom teaching, one can experience the critical thinking and growth that he cultivates in his students. Furthermore, he shares and instills a strong passion for the love of physics in them. Students in Mr. Walgren's physics courses and extracurricular clubs (e.g. Robotics) have shared very positive and engaging experiences of success. His dedication to encouraging students of all backgrounds is demonstrated by the population of students who choose to enroll in his classes and participate in the activities he facilitates. In 2003 Mr. Walgren coached the first all female team to be selected as one of the top 100 rocket teams in the nation. The team was selected to compete in the national fly-offs of NASA's annual Team America Rocketry Challenge. Mr. Walgren's school robotics club is comprised of a higher percentage of Hispanic students than the percentage of Hispanic students in the whole student body. The percentage of female students taking his AP Physics class is always greater than the national average of female students taking the exam. It is no accident that there is cultural and gender diversity in groups of students participating in science experiences with Mr. Walgren. Both in and out of the classroom, Mr. Walgren is successful in encouraging students to get involved in his Robotics Club, which has always reached a maximum enrollment capacity. Amazingly, Mr. Walgren has students "waiting in the wings" to join.

In closing, as a former adjunct professor, high school principal and current department supervisor, I recognize Jay Walgren as one of the best Physics teachers in the state, if not the country. He is an educational leader for others. I highly recommend him for the Outstanding Physics Teacher Award. If you have any need to contact me, please do not hesitate to do so.

Nominated by:

Tom Chinske, Supervisor
thomas.chinske@d128.org
Nov. 19, 2008

Candidate Information

Jay N. Walgren (15 years)
2296 High Point Drive
Lindenhurst, IL 60046
847 265 5607
walgren.j@D128.org
Nov. 26, 2008

Question 1:

Education is a cooperative endeavor that is most successful when students, educators, parents, and the community work in harmony. Because of the ever-changing dynamics of our society, it is imperative that students are academically equipped and self motivated to become lifelong learners. Education also needs to incorporate a variety of experiences and opportunities that encourage students to be self-reliant, and also to be positive contributors in the community. Empowering self-confidence propels a student to succeed to the best of his ability and achieve his educational goals. I believe in the importance of provoking curiosity and providing a positive first experience in scientific exploration.

Learning activities that use real life applications and incorporate multi-modality instruction promote curiosity and encourage discussion. Learning is lively and exciting. It entices creative thinking and the expression of new ideas. Because science is an explanation of the world in which we live, all subject matter is relevant and revealing to my students.

Teachers need to continue to grow by enriching their knowledge of subject matter and best teaching practices. I want to be a lifelong learner who contributes to my community, just as I advocate for my students. I relish updating my physics knowledge by attending seminars and courses, by reading, and by sharing ideas with fellow scientists. Continued involvement in my school and its mission to educate all students, create responsible citizens, and to build a strong sense of self in each individual is my commitment to my school, students and self.

Question 2:

I am an outstanding teacher because I inspire students to be excited about learning physics, I encourage students to challenge themselves, and I identify and help students at risk.

Regardless of the class, my most effective method of encouraging students to enroll in physics class is to be the best teacher that I can be, every day. I find that "word of mouth" between students is the most significant influence in a student's decision to take my class. If students know my classroom is welcoming, inclusive, and supportive for all, and if learning in my class is lively, exciting, and entices creative thinking, then enrolment in my class is high regardless of how rigorous students know the class will be.

In order to encourage students who initially have difficulties learning physics, I identify those students and work with them outside of class. During the first semester of school, it is common to find students getting help from me during every hour that I am not assigned to teach a class. This includes my lunch hour, prep-periods, before and after school. I let these students know that the course work is challenging for everyone and that I believe they are capable. I help them find ways to become more efficient and independent learners and let them know that if they show improvement before the end of the semester it will be taken into consideration when I assign their final grade.

Question 3:

After having me as a teacher, students constantly come to me and want to share their excitement about physics and how they notice it in their daily lives. Before and after class students often stop to share with me how they have observed a physics phenomenon we recently studied. It is not uncommon for students to inform me that after taking my class, physics is now their favorite subject. Two of my former students are pursuing degrees with the intent to teach high school physics and have both expressed they plan to model their teaching after mine.

My students experience growth and success because I encouraging them to participate in new activities and to challenge themselves. For example, in 2008 my students won the AAPT division I PHYSICSBOWL contest in both individual and school categories. Also, in 2003 four of my students were selected as one of the top 100 rocket teams in the annual Team America Rocketry Challenge and competed in the national fly-offs. For the past six years I have facilitated/coached a Robotics club that participates in a program sponsored by Abbott Laboratories. I have become an advisor/consultant to Abbott for this unique program that focuses less on competition and more on students learning to apply principles of physics in the design and engineering of simple robots. In addition to learning about robotics, students receive monthly presentations about the many careers in science and engineering from a diverse group of professionals.

Question 4:

I enrich my knowledge of subject matter and best teaching practices by staying actively involved in my professional community. I am an active member of Physics Northwest, a local group of Chicago area Physics teachers affiliated with the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) who meet monthly to share classroom demonstrations and activities. I regularly attend and present to groups of Chicago area physics teachers through my involvement with Physics Northwest. Last spring, my colleague and I hosted (and presented at) the April Physics Northwest meeting at our school. We are hosting again this March. I regularly attend the AAPT national winter conference and subscribe to Physics journals of the AAPT.

I have maintained my knowledge about new developments in AP Physics by maintaining collaborative relationships with many other AP Physics teachers and by attending many AP College Board workshops and graduate classes. In the last five years I have attended two AP Physics events:

AP Physics Workshop - Triton College - spring 2003

AP Physics Modern Physics Graduate Class - Carleton College - summer 2005

Question 5:

Part of being an educator is an obligation to contribute to your professional community and thereby helping others in their professional development. I regularly make presentations to my professional community; I mentor new teachers and I serve on education committees supporting my school district.

In addition to presenting Physics Northwest, I have also been published in professional journals. In one article I introduce a mathematical method to convert grades based on learning objectives and mastery of content to a standard high school grading scale. The article, titled "Don't Curve It, Convert It!," was published by process of peer review and appeared in the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) journal, Mathematics Teacher (September 2007). I also co-authored an article titled "Taking Advantage of Opportunities" in the AAPT journal, The Physics Teacher (April 2007). The article promotes involvement in AAPT by describing a unique and wonderfully rewarding experience that resulted from attending the AAPT 2007 Winter Meeting.

I mentor often and currently am mentoring a new Chemistry teacher. As part of her mentee experience I have introduced her to both Physics Northwest and Chem West (local Chemistry teacher's group) gatherings encouraging her to presenting (contribute) to her community. This spring she will assist me hosting the Physics Northwest meeting. Hopefully encouraging her to eventually host a Chem West meeting. As the school improvement project coordinator for the science department, I assist my colleges in improving student assessment methods and in incorporating state and national standards into the science department curriculum.

Question 6:

I create activities and labs where students work together in inquiry based learning, and I create investigative labs inspired by student curiosity. For example, students were interested measuring the force from their model rocket using classroom lab computers. I welcomed the idea and created a lab where my class went outside to launch model rockets and studied the physics of rockets and thrust. I use multiple methods to gather data about students understanding and ability. I analyze assessment data to guide my teaching. I use an advance scantron analysis program that gives me a variety of specific data on my student assessments. I choose to get involved educational activities that are, by design, accessible to all students regardless of their ethnicity, gender, or socio-economic background. As mentioned earlier in item 5, I am the school improvement project coordinator for the science department and participate in the ongoing planning and development of the school science program.

Question 7:

I like to find creative ways to help students understand and appreciate science. I build many of my own demonstrations, dress in costume, and find unique ways to enhance field trips. One of the many demonstrations I created is a shatterproof accelerometer made from a Nutella jar that can be attached to a common Pasco physics cart. I also created a low cost adaptor that connects a rocket engine to a Pasco force sensor. I created this adaptor for the rocket lab mentioned above in item 6. I also produce enough adaptors to distribute as a "give away" when I presented it at a Physics Northwest meeting. Annually I dress in costume and perform as a pirate character that I created for a Pirate Vector Lab. I created a project where, my students design, build and calibrate "low tech/low cost" accelerometers without a kit or material purposely manufactured to build accelerometers. Then they use their accelerometers to collect data on roller coasters during the annual Great America field trip. These are some of the innovations that I have presented at Physics Northwest meetings over the years.



 8.  Matt Zimolzak, William Fremd High School, Palatine
 

Nomination

Matt Zimolzak (12 years)
1000 South Quentin Rd.
Palatine, IL 60067
847-755-2600
mzimolzak@d211.org

Nomination letter:

Matt Zimolzak is an ideal candidate for Illinois Outstanding High School Physics Teacher award. Matt is an energetic, innovative, student-centered teacher that knows what it takes to engage students and get them excited about Physics. Instead of speaking to all of Matt's attributes, I will let what he does in the classroom to speak for itself.

Matt Zimolzak teaches 2 different types of physics classes, and excels at both. In his Advanced Placement Physics class, he consistently pushes his first exposure physics students to surpass national averages. Currently he classes average a 4.1 out of a possible 5 on the AP test. However, the one class that stands out the most is his Advanced Physics Course. Advanced Physics is a semester senior elective course. From the moment these students enter the class, they know it will be a different kind of class. Instead of lecturing physics concepts on the board, he allows the students to actually do the science. The students do projects such as Junkyard Wars in where they have to create a catapult from a box of junk. This makes the students apply the physics concepts in class while actually being scientists. This class culminates every semester in a very special project. Matt Zimolzak personally forged a corporate partnership with Motorola's national headquarters several years ago. The students beta test and do science experiments on new Motorola products before they come out to the consumers. They test things such as how much force a cell phone can take or how it stands up in adverse conditions. They also look at the marketing aspect and do interviews and even propose new ideas to Motorola. At the end of the semester, several Motorola executives come to the school and hear a presentation and be presented with a paper of their findings. Many of the ideas that they present are then incorporated into future designs of Motorola products. In addition, they have even given products their final name that goes out to the consumers. This project is a valuable experience for the students and for Motorola. Many students have then also gone on to do internships at Motorola to further their studies.

Matt Zimolzak embodies what it takes to be a physics teacher in today's society. He has high expectations for his students, but gives them the skills needed to succeed. He shows the students real world applications to the concepts and then has them apply the concepts themselves. Please seriously consider Matt Zimolzak for Illinois Outstanding High School Physics Teacher. It would be a perfect award for all that he does.

Nominated by:

Karl Craddock,
kcraddock@d211.org

Candidate Information

Matt C. Zimolzak (13 years)
10985 Manhattan Drive
Huntley, IL 60142
(847)659-8100
mzimolzak@d211.org

Question 1:

My teaching philosophy is based around the premise of helping students enjoy what they are learning. Every year that I have taught has brought about so many unique experiences in and out of the classroom. These experiences are what I base the bulk of my lessons on. To have a single one philosophy of teaching doesn't allow for the every evolving student. I believe that physics is fun if it is taught in a way that students can relate.

I enjoy the challenge of taking a seemingly difficult subject, making it enjoyable and continuing to modify and transform my lessons to an ever-changing audience. I always use the idea of becoming critical thinkers and tackling problems like scientists. 10 years from now they may not remember the science, but they can think like a scientist and know its role in their lives.

I am a strong believer in the Constructivist view of education. I will often provide the problem and have my students find the best way to solve it. I try to instill the belief that they are life-long learners, not only in the classroom, but more importantly, outside of the classroom in the real world.

Question 2:

First of all, I would like to say how honored I am that someone feels that I am worthy of even applying for this award. I also believe that there are many exceptional teachers that don't get the recognition they deserve. As far as how I am outstanding; I teach a second-exposure physics class called Advanced Physics. This class is a senior-level course where all the students have had AP Physics (which I also teach) or our regular physics course.

For the past 12 years, we have worked as an official beta testing site for Motorola Corporation. Basically, we take emerging cellular phones and put them through all of the accelerated life testing we can think of. The students design experiments to run, conduct the experiments and report back to Motorola engineers and appropriate people. Another aspect of the project is to look at what people really want in their phones. We survey, interview and conduct a focus group to gather data. We interpret this data and report back. The culmination of the project is a 2.5 hour presentation to Motorola where we present our findings and next-generation designs, which often times appear in future models. Recently, and very typically, we have corporate vice presidents, engineers, and even university representatives attend our presentations. This past time, Northwestern, University of Illinois, and Purdue were in attendance for our presentation.

This project has been the focus of numerous news articles. I have presented what we do to the Northwest Suburban Superintendents meeting along with our school board on different occasions. Through this program many students in the past 4-5 years have earned paid internships with Motorola. This is a very unique program that only I teach. I also am the lead teacher in our AP Physics program at Fremd High School.

What is most outstanding about that is the success the program has. Most high schools across the state offer AP Physics as a second exposure course. At Township High School District 211, it is offered as a first-exposure. Since I took over the reigns as lead teacher we have averaged a 4.4 out of 5 on the College Board's AP Exams in May. Most of the schools that have success at such a high level usually accomplish this as a result of some sacrifices during the course of the year. One method is to eliminate exploratory lab periods. I believe in the importance of labs. For example, as part of our electricity unit, specifically current, I ask my AP Physics students to wire-up circuits in a way that they would in their own home. They are asked to construct circuits with real switches, duplexes, and fixtures they would find in a typical home. To finish out the unit, we take a trip to the home that the Building and Construction classes at Fremd build in a nearby neighborhood. The head of the Applied Tech department gives the students a tour of the home's electrical system, referencing how what they accomplished in lab is done on a much bigger scale.

It is very important to show the students that what they are learning is applicable to their lives. I also believe that the best way to learn some concepts is from the actual people who do it for their profession. In my mind, this real-world experience often times outweighs what can be accomplished reading a textbook and answering the questions at the end of the chapter.

Question 3:

My goal is to have a positive impact on as many students I can. One positive impact I had in particular, was hearing how a former student of mine went into teaching Physics at a local school. Motorola was looking to expand our very successful program to other schools willing to take on such a partnership. There was a very eager teacher at Stevenson High School in Illinois that jumped at the opportunity and adjusted his curriculum to accommodate the timing Motorola had in mind. He mentioned that when he was in high school he was in the very first project I did with Motorola. His positive experience was so great that he wanted his own students to experience the same.

I have also been able to arrange the opportunity for 30+ of the seniors that I had in class to experience a paid summer internship with Motorola. The offering of a paid internship to students who have not taken a single college course was unique at the time, but has expanded so much now that a position at Motorola was created to handle all of the pre-college interns. Another benefit of this very positive business/engineering partnership is the willingness of Motorola to give the students personalized tours of their facilities, to show what it is like to be an engineer. They have a very extensive lab and testing facility that they have opened up on numerous occasions to give my students a look at how experiments are conducted by a large corporation such as Motorola.

Question 4:

During the past 5 years I have presented to the Township High School District 211 on the benefits of partnerships with the community and how it has been incorporated in my classroom. I have talked about the importance of giving students real-world experiences and bringing in professionals to share their knowledge. I also spoke to the Northwest Suburban Superintendents meeting held November 28, 2005. I presented the scope of what we do and how the program was implemented.

Also, seeing that there was a need for a calculus based physics course in our district, I have recently employed my recommendation for such a course. I have done research and survey based data collection from students at William Fremd High School to support the need. I introduced the need to the curriculum committee and am now in the process of developing the curriculum for a pilot course.

Question 5:

I am the lead teacher in AP Physics at William Fremd High School and therefore responsible for how the course is taught. Since taking over this title in 2001 we jumped from a consistent and respectable 3.2 average on the College Board test to an average of 4.33. This is extraordinary for two reasons. First, this is the highest average in the very competitive high school district. Second, this course is taught as a first exposure course. We compete for scores with the majority of other schools teaching AP Physics as second exposure. I am also the only teacher to teach the Advanced Physics course. This makes it difficult to assist other teachers if I am the only one to teach the course. However, I have worked with Motorola to develop a guide for teachers who would like to build a partnership with their local businesses. This summer-long project allowed representatives from Motorola to travel across the country and show the model I created in hopes of expanding the business-education partnerships. This model gave teachers a starting point of how what is done in my Advanced Physics class can be accomplished in their own schools. It detailed the importance of giving students real-world experience and the opportunity to work with professionals in the field.

A year ago, an Earth Science teacher in my department, who is also the head boys track coach, showed me how he was implementing a program called DartFish. This program allowed him to analyze the specific motions involved in the shot put and discus throw. It is used by professional sports and is often featured in the Olympics overlaying downhill skiers' previous attempts. Immediately, I realized the value and potential the program could have in my physics classes as a way to analyze motion and evaluate other phenomena where before it was either very difficult or impossible. After briefly discussing the value this might have in my class, I talked with the head of our technology department, conveniently a former science teacher, about the purchase of the software. He agreed that this would be a great asset to our teaching. When discussing my thought regarding the possible applications with the representative from DartFish, he was so excited that I would use this in my class that he upgraded my version to the professional version for free as long as I agreed to share with him how I used it. Since that time, I have been able to share this new method with other science teachers at my school and throughout my district.

Question 6:

It isn't very difficult to see how many of the state standards are incorporated in any science classroom. There are a few unique qualities that are exhibited in my classes. The partnership we have with Motorola allows the students to take the state standards one step further.

State Goal 11 is the primary basis for my Advanced Physics research project. They are able to take a problem, develop a hypothesis, and construct an experiment to test their hypothesis. These problems that they want to test are very unique and have never been tested before. This project is unique to any high school. This uniqueness makes my students come up with tests that will provide them with real data that has not been gathered before. In all, I believe I have incorporated the following Illinois State Goals for Science Education:

State Goal 11: Understand the processes of scientific inquiry and technological design to investigate questions, conduct experiments and solve problems.

State Goal 12: Understand the fundamental concepts, principles and interconnections of the life, physical and earth/space sciences.

State Goal 13: Understand the relationships among science, technology and society in historical and contemporary contexts.

All three of the state goals are supported through the product testing and interacting with the engineers at Motorola, but in particular the late high school goals listed for State Goal 11 are supported in the product testing.

11.A.5a Formulate hypothesis referencing prior research and knowledge. Students research prior science and product design in developing their own suggestions for the products and their next generation.

11.A.5b Design procedures to test the selected hypothesis. All of the experiments, surveys, interviews, and focus groups are student designed.

11.A.5c Conduct systematic controlled experiments to test the selected hypotheses. Experiments are done where the results cannot be known (even by me) because the experiment may not have been run before. Experimental design must include controls to eliminate possible sources of error.

11.A.5d Apply statistical methods to make predictions and to test the accuracy of results Students routinely look for statistical significance in surveys as well as experiments. Motorola engineers have been invited into class to teach students statistical models that may be useful.

Question 7:

I would say that my Advanced Physics partnership with Motorola is the most innovative practice I employ. This particular program has been in place for the past 11 years. As a result of the success of this business relationship, Motorola has given William Fremd High School's Advanced Physics class an official Beta testing accreditation.

More than 35 students in the past five years have been offered paid internships to work side by side with their engineers and project planners. The partnership has won the Illinois State Council Business-Education Partnership award, and much other local recognition. The program involves two one-semester-long classes with approximately 50 students each semester. Motorola asks for my classes to research a newly emerging device, typically in its beta stage.

We break the research into two parts, Accelerated Life (Quality) Testing, and a Target Market Analysis. The Accelerated Life Testing (ALT) group breaks into sub-groups depending on the focus. For example, a sub-group might want to test the effects the environment might have on the phone. This sub-group will design labs to simulate the extreme temperatures or debris the phone might encounter. All of the experiments are student designed and performed. The second group will devise methods of data collection in which the target market of the phone is asked about the features, reliability, and other pertinent topics. The data is analyzed and conclusions are made. Both groups, ALT and Target Market Analysis, then determine what direction Motorola should go with their next generation device.

This semester, 10 next generation designs were proposed and a 250+ page report was presented. This semester's 2 hour formal presentation was given to five of Motorola's corporate vice-presidents, representatives from Northwestern University, Purdue, and the University of Illinois School of Engineering, our Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, Principal, Science Department chair, and many other Motorola engineers and representatives. The success of this program lies in the fact that my students are able to work in a way engineers do. They learn the importance of team work, leadership, and professionalism. Their technical reports and presentations are often praised for how well they are done. Many of my students are asked to work for Motorola as a result of this program, and are offered internships, often before entering college.