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By Leah Poffenberger
The Physics Teacher Education Coalition (PhysTEC), a project aimed at addressing the shortage of qualified physics teachers, annually recognizes outstanding physics educators with the PhysTEC Teacher of the Year award. The 2020 PhysTEC Teacher of the Year is Bouakham Sriri-Perez, who teaches physics at Duncan Polytechnical High School in Fresno, CA.
PhysTEC is a partnership between APS and the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) with a mission of improving physics teacher education programs to increase the number of highly qualified physics instructors in the US. The Teacher of the Year award, which has one national winner and four local winners, is an effort to highlight alumni from PhysTEC member institutions who embody the best in physics teacher preparedness.
Sriri-Perez, a graduate of California State University, Fresno—a PhysTEC institution—has spent her 20-year career as a physics educator striving to create accessible and exciting classroom experiences for her students. At McLane High School, where she taught before Duncan Polytechnical High School, Sriri-Perez doubled the number of physics classes. At Duncan, she was responsible for building the school’s physics program, resulting in physics becoming a required—and appreciated—subject.
A hallmark of Sriri-Perez’s teaching is her efforts to decrease the “phear of physics” many of her students have when entering a physics class for the first time. Her strategies of recruiting and connecting with students in the classroom has inspired a number of her students to go on to study physics at Fresno State.
Sriri-Perez has shown a dedication to improving her own teaching and classrooms, often seeking further training to improve her skills as a physics educator and pursuing grant opportunities for classroom equipment. She also has served as a Master Teacher in the Fresno Teacher Residency Program and mentors student teachers who go on to become physics instructors.
The PhysTEC Teacher of the Year National Winner receives special recognition at the PhysTEC conference, funding to attend two professional physics conferences focused on education and teacher preparedness, and a grant for classroom materials of $1,000.
Local PhysTEC Teachers of the Year will receive a certificate of recognition as well as a spotlight on the PhysTEC website and in local press. These winners are:
To learn more about PhysTEC, its member institutions, and the Teacher of the Year award, visit phystec.org.
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Editor: David Voss
Staff Science Writer: Leah Poffenberger
Contributing Correspondents: Sophia Chen, Alaina G. Levine
Publication Designer and Production: Nancy Bennett-Karasik