Passion for Physics Contributes to Outstanding Teaching Award Win for Jon Secaur

Return to Issue of April 27, 2009

Photo by Gary Harwood

Dr. Jon Secaur shows his passion for teaching.
When he attended Kent State University as an undergraduate, Jon Secaur knew that the only thing he wanted to do was teach. With more than 35 years of teaching, his passion for serving others earned him a 2008 Outstanding Teaching Award.

"Receiving the award is a wonderful honor because it starts from student nominations," Secaur says.

Secaur, assistant professor in the Department of Physics, received his bachelor's in education and his doctorate in educational foundations from Kent State. He completed his master's in science teaching at John Carroll University.

A first-generation college student, Secaur says his parents couldn't afford to attend college but they wanted to make sure their children were able to. They moved to Kent – a town with a good university – in hopes that their children would go there.

"I grew up in Kent so it seemed like a natural choice to attend college here," Secaur says. "Education was and is very good here and it has been a fine choice for me."

Secaur currently teaches three sections of Seven Ideas that Shook the Universe and a section on Physics in Entertainment and the Arts. Along with his classes he is involved with setting up field trips for high school students to the planetarium and to science demonstration shows offered at the Kent Campus.

For 29 years, Secaur taught at Kent Theodore Roosevelt High School. He also taught part time in the Department of Physics at Kent State for 25 years. In 2007, he retired from Roosevelt High School and was hired full time as an assistant professor at Kent State.

Secaur does a great deal of writing for his courses. He is currently redesigning the lab for Physics in Entertainment and the Arts and recently received a transformational learning grant from the provost to redesign the Seven Ideas course so that students get more involved in the class.

"I find happiness in the ability to have time to develop good work for students to do," Secaur says. "I believe the quality of work done by a student is directly related to the quality of work given to them."

Seeing a student understand something also brings Secaur joy. "It's so good to see people light up when they understand something," Secaur says. "I think we are all wired to be able to understand things and people can't help but smile when they do."

Secaur says over the years, he has learned a lot from his students. "The thing I learn the most from them is that there are difficulties so many students have in their day-to-day lives," Secaur says. "Not all students are the same and every person has to be considered as a whole, not just what they’re like in my classroom."

As a recipient of the Outstanding Teaching Award, Secaur is recognized for this passion for his students and a love for teaching.

"Relationships provide meaning in our lives and serving other people has been my motivation all along," Secaur says. "Winning this award really is a great validation of what I believe I'm trying to do."

Learn more about Jon Secaur and the Department of Physics at Kent State by visiting the department's Web site.

To see the other winners of the Outstanding Teaching Awards, go to the original story.

By Mary Jo Spletzer

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