Zachary “Zak” Kovach accepted the “Arizona Novice Science Teacher of the Year” award from the Arizona Science Teachers Association. [Note: featured photo shows Zak with dyed hair to motivate students to donate to charity.]
Zak has co-led the mechanics Modeling Workshop at ASU in summer 2014-present, and he was an intern in summer 2013. Two participants in his summer Modeling Workshop lauded him by name on their end-of-course evaluation. They wrote: “I really enjoyed the feedback I got from Zak. Zak is really great at questioning in both teacher and student mode activities, and he gave us ideas that were very practical for discussion.” “Zak engages learners to participate actively and challenges us to think critically.”
Zak is a 2nd career physics teacher; he teaches 5 sections of physics at LaJoya High School in Tolleson UHSD. He increased his physics course enrollment from two sections to five sections in ONE year of teaching. Because his students are economically impoverished, his drastic enrollment increase is strong testament to his extraordinary skills, hard work, and commitment to effective student learning.
Before graduating with a degree in physics from ASU in 2013, Zak was a Learning Assistant funded by the ASU PhysTEC grant. ASU Learning Assistants are guided by Kelli Gamez Warble, the Teacher-in-Residence who has led Modeling Workshops since 1998. Zak took three Modeling Workshops as an undergraduate: mechanics from Jeff Steinert and Kelli Gamez Warble, physical science with math from Patricia Burr, and electricity and magnetism from Michael Crofton.