Dedication to education

An individual’s level of dedication is often measured by the time spent in service to a particular cause. For Jack Wiegers, his dedication to science education cannot only be measured in hours and days but in years, 64 years to be exact.

For that, on August 22, 2015, the St. Louis Area Physics Teachers (SLAPT) awarded Wiegers the first ever Gene Fuchs Memorial Lifetime Accomplishment award.

Wiegers, now a science educator at the Institute for School Partnership (ISP) at Washington University, began his career as an elementary school teacher in 1951. After six years, Wiegers made the transition to teaching high school and college physics, a subject that would define much of his career.

In 1971, Wiegers received a Master’s degree from Wash U and took a job teaching physics in University City School District. Shortly after, John S. Rigden, director of the American Institute of Physics (AIP), and the school district of University City received funding from the National Science Foundation for Project SEER, a K-5 professional development program. With the help of many Wash U faculty members, especially Sarah Elgin and Patrick Gibbons, Rigden and Wiegers implemented this program. The grant would ultimately lead to the creation of ISP’s predecessor, Science Outreach.

With a wealth of experience and an unquenchable dedication to improving science education, Wiegers helped launch in 1985 the inaugural chapter of SLAPT. “The purpose was to bring physics teachers together and hold workshops to help share knowledge,” Wiegers said.

Even with his longtime dedication to the group, Wiegers was humbly surprised by the honor of an award from SLAPT.

“It was touching because it was absolutely unsolicited,” Wiegers said. “It’s nice that when it came to giving out awards, they thought of me.”

However, for those who have worked alongside of him, the award came at no surprise.

“I have worked with Jack for over thirty years,” said Victoria May, Executive Director of the Institute for School Partnership. “I am so amazed by his love of learning and relentless pursuit of understanding.  His dedication to education, teachers and students is remarkable and an inspiration to us all.”

September 2015   |  by, Gennafer Barajas

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