Graduation Year: 1988
Current position: High School Physics Teacher
Please describe your life journey since you graduated from Wheaton College.
Well, actually, graduating was a bit of a challenge in and of itself. I planned to participate in the 3-2 Engineering program while I was at Wheaton. During my Junior year, I had applied and was accepted to the University of Illinois and Iowa State in ceramic engineering. When it got close to the point in time that I needed to make a decision, I decided to stay at Wheaton and complete a major in Physics. Because I was in the 3-2 program, I got off of the Physics track. I needed to take 2 physics courses to graduate, but they were not offered my Senior year. I took my last 2 physics courses at the University of Illinois at Chicago and graduated a semester late.
My first job was with Electronic Data Systems (EDS) in their Systems Engineering Design training program. I had taken some programming classes at Wheaton, so I thought I might like it. As I worked with the people I could not project myself forward and see myself working in that environment 10-20 years later. I had heard that Illinois was giving grants to those who wanted to become science teachers. I had taken a few Education courses at Wheaton and my dad was a teacher, so I thought I would give it a try. I enrolled at Northern Illinois University in a Masters degree program in Education. I became certified to teach Physics after a great student teaching experience at Naperville North High School.
My first teaching position was at Wheaton Central High School (now Wheaton Warrenville South High School). I taught the lowest level science and math classes while I was there and decided to apply to some other schools. I was hired at St. Charles High School to teach Physics and Physical Science courses. I really enjoyed working there because I was able to work closely with two other Christians. While I was there, I learned a great deal about teaching physics from my colleagues. I remained in that position for only two years before my wife and I decided to flee the suburbs and relocate to central Illinois.
After some doubt about wanting to stay in the field of education, I realized that God wanted me in the classroom. I enrolled in the doctoral program in Curriculum and Instruction at Illinois State University during my 8 th year of teaching. Four children and one dissertation later, I graduated in 2005 with a doctorate in Education with an emphasis on Instructional Design and Instructional Technology.
I continue to teach physics at the high school level and I am currently completing my 16th year.
In what way has your Wheaton education in physics or engineering prepared you for your current (or past) job?
The liberal arts approach at Wheaton prepared me to be multidimensional. I have so many experiences that I can bring into my instruction. My courses at Wheaton prepared me to teach Physics because they gave me a very strong core of understanding. One needs to have a firm grasp of any subject in order to teach, but I find that many who think about entering the field of teaching Physics have a very weak grasp of basic physics principles and concepts. I am very grateful to the Physics Department at Wheaton for providing a solid foundation for me to build upon in my teaching career. Of course, when I was at Wheaton, I did not plan to go into the teaching field. However, I was well prepared for the career once God led me there.
Please describe the relationship of your Christian faith with your scientific training or career path.
It is impossible to separate my Christian faith from my career path because they both describe who I am. As I mentioned earlier, after college, God led me into the field of Education. I had some knowledge of the field, as my Dad was a teacher at the time. I had other aspirations in college, but God was patient with me. He allowed me to work in another field long enough to realize that the gifts God had given me were not best used in that field. I completed the necessary requirements to begin teaching and got my first position. At the same time, I joined a Navigators Bible study. Once again, this was no coincidence; God knew exactly what He was doing. Even though education was in my family, I had no idea what awaited inside the walls of public education in the form of spiritual battles. God put me in that Navigator group so that I would be fervent in reading and memorizing His Word. I know of no other way that I could have made it through that first year other than the grace of God and having His Word in my mind. My career in education after that was a series of events orchestrated by God to convince me that I was where He wanted me to be. I can look back now and see in retrospect that God provided me many experiences that have brought me to where I am in my career.
Do you have any words for young students considering a physics or engineering major?
Physics can be a difficult subject to learn, but I think that there is nothing more rewarding. I am still learning, perhaps even more than during my four years at Wheaton. The more I learn, the more I realize I don’t know. The long hours of study and wrestling with the concepts and problems are well worth it. God allows us glimpses into this incredible universe that He created, and the view is absolutely breathtaking!