Press release

PhysTEC Recognizes 2019 Outstanding High School Physics Teachers

June 24, 2019

The Physics Teacher Education Coalition (PhysTEC) PhysTEC Teacher of the Year award is designed to highlight the impact of recent graduates from physics teacher preparation programs in the classroom. Each of the winners was nominated by the PhysTEC member institution from which they graduated or received their teaching credentials. One national winner and several local winners were selected.

The 2019 National PhysTEC Teacher of the Year is Matthew Blackman, a PhysTEC Graduate from Rutgers University currently teaching Physics and Robotics at Ridge High School in Basking Ridge, New Jersey. Matthew completed the Five Year Physics Education program, a joint Ed.M. and teaching certification program, at Rutgers ready to innovate and educate, which he has been doing for nearly a decade.

Since beginning his teaching career, Matthew has dramatically increased the number of students taking AP Physics at his school while simultaneously increasing the percentage of women enrollment from under 20% to 50%. His passion and drive spill out of his own classroom and school. Matthew taught himself how to code and has since started a non-profit where he has developed free games as educational tools that allow students to explore the concepts of kinematics, circuits, waves, and electrostatics.

He was recently recognized by the New Jersey Senate with a Congressional Resolution honoring this work along with achievements in the classroom and coaching FIRST Robotics.

Outside of Ridge High School, Blackman teaches graduate courses in the Physics Education master’s program at Rutgers University (of which he is an alumnus). He also launched a successful professional development summer workshop for physics teachers, which has grown from eight participants to over 20 per year.

Matthew Blackman will receive a certificate of recognition from PhysTEC, funding to attend two professional physics conferences focused on teaching and teacher preparation, as well as a classroom materials grant of $1,000.

The local PhysTEC Teachers of the Year will receive a certificate of recognition as well as an official acknowledgment to their school administrators and local press. These winners are:

  • Aaron Curry, Dr. Henry A. Wise, Jr. High School, Salisbury University
  • David Doty, Cattaraugus-Little Valley High School, Buffalo State College
  • Julia Grimes, Westlake High School, Brigham Young University
  • Chad Hobby, Timber Creek High School, University of Central Florida
  • Kristin Kellar, Talkington School for Young Women Leaders, Abilene Christian University
  • Donald Soper, David H. Hickman High School, University of Missouri-Columbia
  • Heather Stirewalt, Whittier High School, California State University at Long Beach
  • Jamie Vargas, Edison High School, California State University, Fresno

PhysTEC, led by the American Physical Society and the American Association of Physics Teachers, congratulates these outstanding professionals for their contributions to their schools and the physics community.

PhysTEC aims to improve the education of future physics teachers by transforming physics departments, creating successful models for physics teacher education programs, and disseminating best practices. The project has supported more than 40 sites to build physics teacher education programs and established a national coalition of over 300 institutions committed to improving physics teacher preparation (see for more details).

The PhysTEC project receives funding from the National Science Foundation and the APS Campaign for the 21st Century and is led by the APS in partnership with the American Association of Physics Teachers. For more information, contact Monica Plisch (, Director of PhysTEC and APS Director of Education and Diversity.

About AAPT

The American Association of Physics Teachers ( is a nonprofit membership organization working to enhance the understanding and appreciation of physics through teaching. AAPT supports the physics education community through peer-reviewed journals, summer and winter meetings, advocacy, and programs. AAPT represents over 8,000 physics educators from around the world, primarily from institutions of secondary and higher education. Society headquarters are located in College Park, MD.


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