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“Don’t be scared…it’s me. Love you”

The title is the first instant message sent by AOL instant messenger in 1993. I find it to be a fitting start to this blog.

13 years ago I was one quarter into my junior year of high school. I was unwillingly forced into my first physics class and within a week I was hooked (thanks mom) My teacher seemed to be on one too many Mountain Dews…he talked more rapidly than I do (I talk really fast), he was excited all the time, and clearly brilliant.

At the same time, I was enrolled in a precalculus class with a teacher who often made me uncomfortable, his familiarity becoming increasingly bothersome.

By the time November rolled around I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my life: Physics. I was going to apply to the most elite Universities, explore the possibility of engineering, but still a 100% focus on physics and awesomeness. I was infected with an overwhelming amount of excitement and I literally could not stay in my seat during class. November was also the time for course recommendations for the following year. My math teacher did everything in his power to tell me I was inadequate and I had to fight tooth and nail to get into AP Calculus. My physics teacher, on the other hand, suggested I take AP Physics. I was so nervous and shy that I could not muster the gumption to assert that was the class I deeply wanted prior to him suggesting it. When he did I shook my head vigorously.

In the years following I had mostly excellent instructors, mentors and role models. First and foremost my AP Physics teacher, John Lewis. I can only dream to be half the teacher he is. His methodology and pedagogy were so subtle I am still recognizing and uncovering his amazing talent as a teacher.

In college, I was fortunate to not only have amazing professors, but amazing friends, starting the Society for Women in Physics at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign and all the while learning how to become a strong, assertive woman in STEM.

Now, I do the very thing that got me started in the first place: I teach high school physics. Too often my graduation plans were met with an unenthusiastic “oh” by my college professors. I was one of the drips leaking out of the pipeline, not pursuing the ultimate goal of the PhD. It made me question if I was settling for less than that which I was capable.

Yet I realize that my work is the only work I could ever pursue with as deep a passion and energy as I do. That is only topped by my work as a wife and mom.

I do all three. I am a Physics Teacher Momma

 

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