The Physics Teacher Education Coalition (PhysTEC) recently recognized University of West Georgia alumnus Adam Pullen as a Local PhysTEC Teacher of the Year.
PhysTEC, led by the American Physical Society (APS) and the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT), highlights the influence of recent graduates from physics teacher preparation programs in the classroom.
The 2018 Local PhysTEC Teacher of the Year award recognizes Pullen for his exemplary teaching and his contributions to physics education, including his notable effect on students, colleagues and the state. He is one of 10 local PhysTEC Teachers of the Year recognized nationally.
Pullen received recommendation letters from Dr. Julie Talbot, the head of UWG’s Department of Physics, and Thad Persons, dean of faculty at the Atlanta-based Westminster Schools where Pullen currently teaches ninth-grade physics and 12th-grade modern physics.
Pullen graduated from UWG in April 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in physics. He also coached high school football during his sophomore year and realized how much he enjoyed making a positive effect on high school students.
“As soon as I entered a classroom for the first time, I realized my true calling was teaching,” Pullen said. That’s when he joined UTeach, a teacher preparation program designed for STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) majors. He credits UTeach for nurturing that desire to teach.
UTeach was created to attract the widest range of bright science and mathematics majors into secondary teaching careers, to prepare them with an advanced field-intensive curriculum, and to promote field retention through induction support and ongoing professional development. The program provides students strong content knowledge in their major, while also gaining teaching experience through the College of Education.
UWG is one of three institutions in the state using the UTeach model.
“Without the UTeach program, I am not sure I would have chosen the education profession,” Pullen said. “UTeach offered me a chance to earn a traditional science degree while completing a teaching pathway. This is distinctive for UWG, as there are only two other institutions in the state that offer a UTeach model.”
Pullen said the faculty and staff in the College of Science and Mathematics positively affected his journey by honing his innovative teaching styles. Still, he believes his adviser, Talbot, influenced his change of perspective more than any other.
“Dr. Talbot inspired me to be the type of teacher I am today through her compassion for every student she teaches,” Pullen said.
Pullen left a lasting impression on Talbot as well. His inspired work impressed Talbot so much that she invited him to be a teaching assistant for some of her physics workshops.
“While Adam had not yet spoken to me about the physics/secondary education track, I immediately knew he was a natural teacher,” Talbot said. “He was the first physics major to go through our UTeach-affiliated teacher preparation program, and everyone who has worked with him in any capacity thinks highly of Adam and his ability to teach, nurture and mentor.”