Physics being taught by a math teacher


Christine Stricker

Hannah Merriman poses for a picture in her new science classroom

Taylor Stern, Staff Reporter

With the departure of one of Parkway Central’s science teachers last year, an open spot was in the need of being filled. Luckily, the science department didn;t have to look very far. As of the current school year, Physics, the science class, is now also being taught by a math teacher. The change has seemed to be very well received by students and has also succeeded in taking a load off of the primary physics teachers in Parkway Central’s science department.

Joining the current trio of Physics teachers made up of Ryan King, Jennifer Meyer, and Chris Ramming, Hannah Merriman is now also a part of the science mix. Along with every other course, a person cannot teach the class without first earning a certification in the subject. The certification requires that the aspiring teacher has to pass a physics exam that tests expertise in classical mechanics, modern physics, thermodynamics (the relationships of all energy forms) and experimentation. There is also a follow-up teacher knowledge exam that covers classroom delivery methods, management and learning assessment.

“The school had more people signed up to take physics than normal and some of the science teachers knew I was certified in physics so they asked if I would do it,” Merriman said. “I wanted to, so I said yes.”

The reason so many students were expected to take physics this school year is because of the recent change in the science curriculum. Starting in the 2017-2018 school year, incoming freshmen were to take biology, sophomores were to take chemistry, and juniors were to take physics. At the time of the switch, the freshmen and sophomore classes both had to take biology at the same time, creating somewhat of a bubble year.

“The reason we have the need for more physics teachers is because there’s double the amount of students taking the course this year because the curriculum changed,” King said.

With the added help of Merriman’s teaching, King is responsible for teaching three regular Physics classes and one Principles of Physics class, Meyer teaches one Principle of Physics class, two AP Physics 1 classes, and 1 AP Physics 2 class. Ramming, a part-time teacher who has previously taught for more than 50 years, teaches two regular Physics classes, and Merriman has taken on two Regular physics classes as well. With that, Merriman still teaches 4 other math classes: 3 AP Statistics classes and one Algebra 1 class.

“I heard about the change last year when they were trying to find more physics teachers,” junior Sophie Sokolik, a student in Merriman’s class said. “The change makes sense because math and physics really go together. A lot of stuff I’ve learned in physics are things I’ve done in math classes before so it makes sense for them to go hand-in-hand.”

Luckily, Merriman has been just as happy about the change as everyone else involved.

“I really enjoy physics which is why I got the certification, so it’s a nice change of pace for me and I think it’s a really fun subject,” Merriman said.

Because she now teaches classes in two separate subjects, she is consequently a member of the two separate departments, math and science. In the beginning of the year, she was required to meet with both departments but because she’s primarily a math teacher, she doesn’t need to attend all of the full department meetings.

“The science department is very welcoming,” Merriman said.