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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 2022: Danielle Buggé

The 2022 National Teacher of the Year is Danielle Buggé of West Windsor-Plainsboro High School South in Princeton Junction, NJ. Buggé was nominated by PhysTEC institution Rutgers University, from which she graduated.

Throughout her 13-year career, Buggé has created an environment where students develop confidence in science, communication, and collaboration. From her dedication to students and the teaching of physics, many successes followed.

Buggé builds her classroom using the Investigative Science Learning Environment, inquiry-based learning, universal design for education, and productive failure techniques. Her teaching techniques are backed by research, much of which she has performed herself. Students in her classroom, even though they come in nervous and unsure about science, learn to reflect on their own learning, to think critically, and to communicate and collaborate effectively. More often than not, those students at least consider going into a STEM field after high school. Many of them actually do.

Through leading by example as a teacher and winning grants to create real-world opportunities for students, Buggé has improved STEM teaching culture at her school as a whole. Not only have more STEM classrooms in her district adopted inquiry-based learning techniques, but enrollments have increased. She continues to share her knowledge by mentoring new physics teachers in her district and sharing her research with physics education researchers.

Beyond the classroom, Buggé gives back to the teaching community by co-leading a professional learning community of physics teachers from and around Rutgers University. She mentors pre-service teachers and co-teaches graduate courses for teachers at Rutgers. All Rutgers pre-service physics teachers who have been mentored by Buggé and were hired are still employed as teachers. In addition, at least two of her physics students are currently studying to become physics teachers.

Danielle Buggé head shot
Danielle Buggé
2022 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

2022 Local Teachers of the Year

In addition to Buggé'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.

  • Tamara Araya: California State University, Long Beach, Sato High School
  • Joe Cossette: University of Minnesota, Minnetonka High School
  • Kasi Dishman: Appalachian State University, Johnson County High School
  • James Gell: Michigan State University, Plymouth-Canton Community Schools
  • Marni Jacobs: University of Colorado, Boulder, Chief Sealth High School
  • Justin King: Stony Brook University (SUNY), Commack High School
  • Jeraldo (Jerry) Martinez: California State University, Fresno, Sanger High School
  • Javier Melendez: Arizona State University, Arizona State University Preparatory Academy
  • Patty Mueller: Adelphi University, Westbury Public Schools
  • Jennifer Podel: Smith College, Northampton High School
  • Elizabeth Rosendale: University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, Holmen High School
  • Aarti Sangwan: Salisbury University, Worcester Technical High School
  • Rob Sheffield: Clemson University, Laurens District High School
  • Earl Smith: California State University, San Bernardino, Cajon High School
  • Benjamin Spicer: Montana State University, Sewickley Academy
  • Samantha Spytek: Virginia Tech, Rock Ridge High School
  • Janice Trinidad: University of Texas, Austin, Cedars International Next Generation High School
  • Paul Wolf: University of Arkansas, Haas Hall Academy

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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