At this point even Eric began to tear up a bit.
Eric was presented the award at a meeting of Ballard High School faculty on January 29 2014. The selection of Eric was not announced at the section meeting in October (which Eric was unable to attend) so that the presentation could be a surprise. This plan was a huge success and brought credit both to Eric and to the organization as it turned out.
Final Photo Op!
Eric gets his due.
Tom began to read from a list of Eric's exploits as an innovative and dedicated teacher. From kite flying at the South Pole to his ride on the Vomit Comet, Eric has found meaningful and exciting connections to physics for his students throughout his career. Item after item was described with both the science and the adventure very evident. At the end Tom pointed out that in all these places from NASA balloon launches to national AAPT meetings, Eric always found a way to have his students along.
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This was a wonderful experience! We had the rare chance to recognize one of our own in front of his colleagues. This was an honor for Eric, and a pleasure for us. As it turned out it was good for nearly everyone. Multiple times as Tom and I walked out, faculty members patted our backs or waved at us. A few even reached out and stopped us to thank us personally for making the trip and the presentation.
It is hard to remember anything that has been this rewarding during my time as a member of AAPT. Oh. Wait. There was that one time, a few years ago, when we presented the award for the first time to that guy... what was his name?
During the faculty meeting, Tom Haff, the current President of WA-AATP, and Robert Hobbs, Section Representative, were ushered to seats by the Assistant Principal. At the next break in the proceedings we were introduced by Keven Wynkoop, Principal at Ballard High. After our titles and organization were presented Keven said we were here to make a very special presentation. From our vantage point we were able to see Eric in the back, and although he knew Tom, he clearly still had no inkling that this was connected to him. There was little to distinguish his expression of curious interest from those of the many other faculty in attendance.
Tom began with very brief remarks about what our organization is about. When his list came around to supporting excellence in physics teaching, Tom said that this was what brought us here today. We were here to recognize someone who has made outstanding contributions to the teaching of physics and it is Eric Muhs. It was only in this last short sentence that Eric and the audience finally came to know that he was the honoree. He was clearly surprised and couldn't really respond for several moments. Tom had to wave him forward several times before he came around and began to walk up to the front.