Headshot of LoriAnn Pawlik with text Thriving Futures/Futuros. Family and Community Engagement Prosperos text

LoriAnn Pawlik, physics instructor at Charles J. Colgan Sr. High School, turned a global pandemic into an opportunity for students to learn and explore the world of science a little differently. The Virginia Association of Science Teachers (VAST) recognized Pawlik's extensive work and outward thinking by presenting her with the Recognition in Science Education (RISE) award for Outstanding Physics Teacher. Pawlik's ability to devise cutting edge and relevant ways to engage students in subject matter concepts while adapting to a virtual environment, is a testament to her resiliency and perseverance as recognized by the award.

Pawlik began teaching physics at Colgan High in August of 2020 after having spent several years as an elementary classroom teacher and K-5 science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) teacher. Just a few short months into her first year at Colgan, teaching and learning had to be altered due to the pandemic. Pawlik saw this change as an opportunity to connect her students and their learning about physics in a whole new way.

As a certified educator and facilitator with National Geographic, Pawlik partnered with Marissa Cuevas Floras, National Geographic Explorer based in Mexico, to tie physics into a global perspective for her students. Both Pawlik and Cuevas Flores wanted to have maximum impact on students to help them care about the world and their place in it - empowering them to make a difference. Students used digital learning platforms and teleconferencing to connect with each other and Cuevas Flores. They identified concerns in their own community, discussed those issues, and communicated with each other to take action.

"Applying our physics principles through actual real-world learning helped our students learn to care for others and the environment" mentioned Pawlik.

While navigating teaching and learning new ways, this partnership helped students set goals and make real connections while demonstrating care, which greatly improved everyone's mental health. The partnership was documented in detail by Pawlik through a creative story map titled, Resilience and Perseverance.

Pawlik joins Debra Peterman, an eighth-grade physical science teacher at Benton Middle School, who also received a RISE award this year. These two outstanding PWCS educators have the honor of being two out of only seven recipients of this award in the state of Virginia for 2021.

Aprendizaje y logros para todo. Learning and Achievement for All