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Tenicka Norwood is an Award-Winning Master Science Educator

January 2017

Tenicka NorwoodTenicka Norwood, C’2005, graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Physics from Spelman and earned an Master's of Science in Optical Engineering from Norfolk State University. She is currently a Math for America Master Science Teacher specializing in physics. She is thrilled that gets paid to do what she loves: build and test physics-driven models!

For Norwood, physics has been the thread that has connected her multifaceted career path that took her from the halls of Spelman's Science Center to becoming an award-winning Master Science Educator. A Spelman professor like Natarajan Ravi, Ph.D., physics department chair, introduced Norwood to the rigor of research and helped her make connections with physicists and engineers who shaped her love of experimentation and theory.

While at Spelman, she was a member of the Society of Physics Students which led her to the annual meeting of the National Society of Black Physicists. There, she had the opportunity to meet Norfolk State professor, Dr. Sean Jones -- through whom she met her future advisor, Dr. Arlene P. Maclin, one of America's first female physicists of color. Under her tutelage, Norwood received an M.S. in optical engineering. 

Norwood also participated in a research experience for undergraduate students at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. While there, she made valuable connections in the physics, materials science and electrical and computer systems engineering departments. After completing her master's degree at Norfolk State, she became a doctoral student at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's Electrical and Computer Systems Engineering where she worked at the Gordon CenSSIS Center for Imaging. Norwood fondly recalls one of the most noteworthy events of her life happened when she competed and won the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's 2010 DIADEM Challenge as a member of Dr. Badri' Roysam's team. 

After the yearlong Diadem Challenge ended, Norwood began mentoring high school students more intently and fell in love with teaching. She was recruited into the New York City Teaching Fellows program, which allowed her to combine her love of physics and teaching. After completing the fellows program, she became a Sci-Ed Fellow and spent a year learning how to incorporate Jhumki Basu's democratic science teaching into her classroom lessons.

"Studying physics at Spelman taught me the importance of refining models and to constantly seek new information. With this in mind, I kept working to learn how to become a better educator by applying for challenging fellowships like the NEA-Better Lesson Master Science Teacher Fellowship where I created, curated and implemented Next Generation Science Standards aligned physics curriculum (which is freely available to physics teachers through creative commons licensing)," said Norwood.

blue-quote-leftI would not be where I am without the sound foundation of both theory and blue-quote-rightexperimentation I garnered from the Spelman College Physics Department.


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