Published: July 12, 2019

DC teachersRecognizing the need for networked physics teacher leadership to improve the quality and quantity of K-12 physics education, the American Association of Physics Teachers and American Institute of Physics have selected new Master Teacher Policy Fellows, including two Colorado teacher-partners from the CU Boulder School of Education. 

Alisa Grimes of Roaring Fork High School in Carbondale and Rebecca Stober of North High School in Denver Public Schools are part of the new cohort for the selective fellowship, and fellows from six states are in Washington D.C. this week for their summer workshop. 

The fellowship program aims to engage K-12 classroom teachers as agents of change in physics education by bringing together educators with experience in high school physics and K-8 physical science teaching who are eager to develop strategic plans to positively impact policy. 

The 12-month program aims to empower and support teacher-driven efforts to improve educational policy at the state and large district level as it pertains to the teaching and learning of physics, and following the summer workshop, participants will carry out their strategic plans for policy engagements during the 2019-20 academic year. 

Grimes and Stober are both partners in the School of Education’s Streamline to Mastery and Physics Through Evidence: Empowerment Through Reasoning, or PEER Physics programs, which both allow for teachers to build their practice and expertise as teacher leaders. As they become teacher leaders, the educators continue to experience professional challenges by mentoring and supporting other teachers and co-facilitating the Streamline to Mastery program, said Valerie Otero, CU Boulder professor of STEM education.

“Great teachers, like great scientists, are always looking for a new challenge and new problem to solve,” Otero said. 

“Streamline to Mastery teachers work in teams to investigate problems of practice and in doing so, they generate knowledge and experience professional satisfaction. Teaching is never finished; it is an intellectual journey.”

The Colorado fellows are teaming up with Shannon Wachowski, a long-time PEER Physics and Streamline to Mastery colleague and fellow from Wyoming, to have a greater impact when they return home to the Rocky Mountain West.

“Our particular policy initiative revolves around making efforts to form partnerships with higher education institutions in Colorado and Wyoming,” said Wachowski, a former Colorado educator who is now an academic outreach coordinator at the University of Wyoming School of Teacher Education. 

“We want to create other Streamline to Mastery-like programs — similar to the one we've been involved with at CU Boulder — in other areas of the state that will benefit science educators who may not otherwise have access to funding and professional development opportunities.”