East's Walkup receives national physics education award

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Not many kids like science or physics. But when you have a teacher who can make such a subject fun and interesting, it can become one of their favorite classes.

Cranston High School East has a special teacher who does just that.

Ann Walkup, who has been teaching at East since 2004, was recently honored with the Paul W. Zitzewitz Award for Excellence in K-12 Physics Teaching by the American Association of Physics Teachers.

Walkup is at a loss as to who nominated her.

“I do know that Ann is a very talented physics teacher. We do not know who nominated her,” said Douglas McGunagle, chair of East’s science department.

Walkup shared the email she received on Saturday, Feb. 8, about her selection.

“On behalf of the American Association of Physics Teachers’ Awards Committee, I am delighted to announce that we have unanimously selected you as the 2020 recipient of the Paul W. Zitzewitz Award for Excellence in High School Teaching,” it reads.

The message notes that as part of the award, Walkup will be covered to travel to the 2020 AAPT Summer Meeting in Grand Rapids, Michigan, from July 18-22.

The description of the award on the website states that it is named for Paul W. Zitzewitz, the principal author of the highly acclaimed and widely adopted high school physics text “Physics: Principles and Problems.” It recognizes “outstanding achievement in teaching K-12 physics.”

Walkup was shocked upon hearing the news.

“I am honestly very surprised and humbled by the award. I feel I do what every other good teacher does, try to provide the best possible learning experience for her students and turn them into lifelong learners. I am honored that someone finds what I do worthy of such a prestigious award,” she said via email.

In her email acceptance, she echoed her excitement.

“Like every other teacher, I go to work every day, give my students and coworkers 100 percent, and do not expect anything more than the occasional thank you. I am very humbled that someone finds what I consider my daily duties to be worth this distinguished honor and recognition,” she said.

Cranston East Principal Sean Kelly was very pleased to learn of Walkup’s honor, calling her a “very dedicated and enthusiastic teacher.”

She presents herself as approachable to the students, and a wonderful colleague to all the teachers in the building. We are very lucky to have her on our staff,” Kelly said.

Besides teaching science and physics, Walkup’s interests are varied and diverse. She actually teaches sound and harmonics using a real harp, she is currently working on a Graduate Colored Stones degree from the Gemological Institute of America. She is a member USA Dance and performed in several Ballroom Formation Teams at Floor Time Studios. She was the 2008 recipient of the AMGEN award for science teaching excellence. She is certified to teach the Bob Ross technique of oil painting. She is also the faculty advisor to the science, chess and game clubs at Cranston East.

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