Name: Joe Newman
School: Wellington Middle School
Located: Wellington, Kansas
Number years teaching: 4
What do you teach and to what grade(s)?
I teach Grades 6-8 in a Pitsco Modules lab.
Why do you like what you teach?
I love my job. I believe it is one of the best jobs in our district. Not only is it a very unique class, it is also fun to teach. There is so much variety and different activities going on at the same time that I’m constantly moving around and time flies by. My students enjoy the Modules as well as the hands-on activities they get to do each day.
Did you always want to be a teacher?
No. I went to college on a basketball scholarship and believed I would be able to play basketball the rest of my life. However, my freshman year I was a backup guard for a guy who went on to play for the Boston Celtics. After playing against him for a few days, I decided I needed a backup career plan. It was then I decided that I wanted to teach and coach.
Why do you like to teach with hands-on products?
I believe it is the best way to teach. Lecturing in front of students and having them do assignments on paper has its place in education, but I believe students get the most out of their learning experience when they can do things with their hands.
How does using hands-on products improve the students’ learning experiences?
When students can bring things to life with their own hands, there is often that “I got it” moment because they can see how it works with their own eyes. Students are also more engaged in the activity when they are active rather than sitting and listening/reading about a particular topic.
How long have you been using Pitsco Education products?
Three years as a teacher, but I can remember building Pitsco rockets when I was a student.
What is your favorite Pitsco Education product and why?
I really enjoy building the rockets and launching them. With this scholarship money I’m going to purchase some items for my lab, and I’m going to get a Pitsco water bottle rocket launcher for the class.
How do the students respond to Pitsco Education products?
They love them. When students first come into my classroom, they are excited to see all of the equipment and can’t wait to get their hands on them.
What's your greatest teaching accomplishment?
My greatest accomplishment came during my first year of teaching at Wellington High School. I taught a class called Structured Study, which was for at-risk students who were on the verge of either dropping out of high school or being sent to an alternative school. One of the students was a senior and was not close to meeting graduation requirements. However, with his hard work and a little guidance from me, he was able to not only graduate but graduate on time. I bumped into him that summer and he thanked me and told me that if it wasn’t for me, he would have quit high school and never graduated; hands down my greatest teaching accomplishment.
Visit www.pitsco.com/scholarship for details about the scholarship or to nominate an educator you know.