Learn about the UToP Program

Project Description

The American Association of Physics Teachers, working in conjunction with the American Institute of Physics has launched the Master Teacher Instructional Leaders: Underrepresented Teachers of Physics Fellowship. The Fellowship partners early career or preservice Physics teachers from underrepresented populations with more established Physics teachers who are also from underrepresented populations to build a community of experts all working to increase diversity of Physics teachers, and the broader field of Physics.

This program is aligned with AAPT’s strategic plan to increase diversity in physics. The priority on mentoring and instructional leadership emanates from AAPT’s Physics Master Teacher Leader Taskforce’s report, Aspiring to Lead. Teachers of color have lower retention rates than their White counterparts, often because teachers of color are found in underserved school environments. Even highly qualified PhysTEC graduates are retained at a rate only slightly higher than the national average, possibly because of the lack of preparation unique to physics and the isolation and lack of support once teachers enter the classroom. The lack of African American teachers and, independently, the lack of quality secondary physics education, is a likely cause of the lack of African American students pursuing undergraduate physics.

What do Fellows do?

Participating UToP Fellows will

  • Serve as either a Mentor or Mentee for another UToP Fellow
  • Establish and Grow a National Network of Underrepresented Teachers of Physics that will serve as a guiding body to support the growth of underrepresented populations becoming Physics Teachers and thriving as professionals
  • Attend Four Day face to face meeting of Mentors and Mentees during the AAPT Summer meeting in Grand Rapids Michigan (all costs covered by project)
  • Have access to four semesters of online synchronous and asynchronous graduate coursework (through a partnership with Mercyhurst University) that will include:
    • Structured Mentorship and Educational Leadership
    • Physics Content Knowledge Growth
    • Research Based Pedagogical Content Knowledge and Assessment Tools
    • Culturally Sustaining Physics Education Best Practices

Nominate a Physics Teacher


For more details and information about AAPT's K12 Programs, please contact Mark Hannum, at mhannum@aapt.org