Want to Get Inspired by a Physics Teacher?
Yuriy Zavorotniy loves to share his passion for physics. Everyone who has ever taken a class with him knows it. He says his goals as a teacher are straightforward: to help his students get a strong understanding of the principles of the field, and to provide the support they need to succeed in their lives. Mr. Zavorotniy’s dedication has helped position his school, Bergen County Technical School in Teterboro, as #1 in STEM education in all of New Jersey in Newsweek’s recent national report.
So where was this passion born? When Mr. Zavorotniy was growing up in Ukraine, his cousins had long warned him of just how tough seventh grade physics was at his school, so he studied and studied and in his words, “fell in love” with it…. As it turns out physics was no passing crush for him! It brought him his career, his wife (a fellow physics student in Odessa) and a path to America.
Unfortunately, Mr. Zavorotniy’s multi-cultural family was impacted by anti-Semitism in Ukraine. It affected not only his career and that of his wife, but most importantly they foresaw a limited future for their son. So, when the moment came, they took a courageous leap and came to America – leaving everything behind, and with no jobs in place, and no experience speaking English!
A strong background in physics saved the day. The language of science is universal. Dr. Bob Goodman, who now serves as our executive director at NJCTL, but was then a science supervisor at Bergen County Tech, needed a new physics teacher.. After a year in the U.S., Mr. Zavorotniy’s English was not yet as fluent as it is today, but his physics skills were world-class.
Dr. Goodman not only hired him to teach, but now serves as one of NJCTL’s directors, and helps spearhead the development of the free K-12 classroom materials that NJCTL now offers to educators everywhere! Today, Mr. Zavorotniy personally educates not only his high school students, but is also one of our online physics courses for teachers instructors, as well as the Dean of Faculty.
Mr. Zavorotniy’s favorite thing about physics is that he is constantly learning. “You never have all the answers. One question creates another question and so on. The more you learn, the more you understand how little you know. That’s what makes physics so scary, and so fun! Most importantly,” he explains, “Learning physics helps all of us solve the problems we encounter in real life, and everyone has the potential to learn.” Especially in the wake of his family’s experiences in Ukraine, he never judges his students’ potential based on their nationality, race, gender, hopes or dreams. It’s simple, he says, “Each and every one of us is subject to the same gravitational field g = 9.8 m/s^2."