Sarah Torrie is the kind of physics teacher that everyone should have. Now in her 16th year as an educator, she inspires her students at Victoria Park CI to explore the joys and challenges of physics during her classes, at lunch and after school. Drop into her classroom and you will see a room full of students actively and enthusiastically engaged in discussions and problem solving. In other words, they are learning to figure things out and act like scientists. This is one of the many reasons she is being recognized by the Canadian Association of Physicists (CAP) with the 2019 CAP Award for Excellence in Teaching High School/CEGEP Physics (Ontario). The CAP Award for Excellence in Teaching is intended to recognize excellence in teaching physics in high school to encourage students to pursue a career in physics. Her outstanding efforts in raising the bar for student participation in physics contests, her track record for student participation in physics activities outside of the classroom, and her demonstrable results in increasing participation of female students in physics are the other reasons.
In addition to this award, Sarah has been invited to visit CERN in Switzerland where she will be joining 48 teachers from 35 countries this July. The two-week residential program is offered to selected high school science teachers from around the world to update their knowledge and share access to educational resources from the world’s largest and most respected centre for scientific research. An amazing learning experience for Sarah that will benefit her students for years to come.
Sarah has created an environment where science rules and physics is cool. She is nurturing and inspiring these young scientists. Her classroom is always busy at lunch and after school. This is when Sarah helps her students prepare for the many out-of-school projects and contests that they compete in. The biggest draw is the Science Olympics. Sarah fielded her first team in 2007 and it has grown each year! It now includes several other teachers and about a hundred students competing in many teams at several different locations. The older students help train the younger ones and each year they bring back numerous awards and have lots of fun.
The senior students get involved in other activities that are a little less raucous but just as engaging. Her students create award winning physics photos and they prepare for and write several different physics contests each year. They go on field trips to different universities and research centres around Ontario. Sarah also runs a Physics Club where students present topics outside the curriculum, screen physics movies and eat lots of pizza.
"It is a real honour to be recognized by the CAP for doing something that I love. I'm grateful to be a part of such an innovative and supportive community and appreciate all of the engaged students, generous mentors, and inspiring educators I've had the privilege to work with," remarks Sarah.