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PhysTEC Teacher of the Year

The PhysTEC Teacher of the Year program recognizes outstanding high school physics educators who demonstrate the impact and value of physics teacher preparation programs. Each year, PhysTEC member institutions submit their recommendations to the selection committee, and one National Teacher of the Year and several local teachers of the year are selected.

PhysTEC National Teacher of the Year 2019: Matthew Blackman

Matthew Blackman of Ridge High School in Basking Ridge, New Jersey was named the 2019 PhysTEC National Teacher of the Year.

The selection committee noted his efforts to dramatically increase AP Physics enrollment and scores over his 10 years of teaching the subject. Specifically, he worked to improve the percentage of female students taking AP Physics, increasing it from under 20% to over 50%.

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.

In his spare time, Blackman is a self-taught coder and designer of video games; he has built five educational physics games to help students explore the concepts of kinematics, circuits, waves, and electrostatics. His 501c3 nonprofit, Universe and More, develops and distributes the games, which are free-of-charge to play (and always will be). The games have received millions of plays, and are used by teachers in all 50 states and over 60 countries.

Recently, Blackman was recognized by the New Jersey Senate with a Congressional Resolution honoring his achievements in the classroom, including the creation of educational games and coaching FIRST robotics.

Matthew Blackman head shot
Matthew Blackman
2019 National Teacher of the Year

National Winners receive:

  • A certificate of achievement
  • A spotlight on our website and in press
  • Speaking engagement at and travel funding to an upcoming national AAPT meeting and the next PhysTEC Conference
  • Special recognition at the PhysTEC Conference
  • $1,000 classroom materials grant

2019 Local Teachers of the Year

In addition to Blackman's selection as the National Teacher of the Year, we congratulate and thank the following Local Teachers of the Year, who strengthen the physics community by cultivating scientific curiosity in young minds.

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

Local Winners receive:

  • A certificate of achievement
  • A spotlight on our website and in press

Teacher of the Year Selection Process

Important Dates

  • Nominations Open: February 17, 2022
  • Applications for National award Open: April 25, 2022
  • Applications for National award Close: June 6, 2022


Teacher of the Year nominees must be:

  • Selected by a PhysTEC member institution,
  • A graduate of the selecting institution
  • An active high school science teacher with at least three years of experience in physics teaching, and
  • Able to demonstrate their significant positive impact on students’ learning and pursuit of physics

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