• Biography

    I love teaching!  Although my content area is physics I really feels that it is students that I teach.

    I have taught physics at Grosse Pointe North High School for the past 16 years. I teach all levels of physics, from conceptual to college preparatory to the calculus level, Advanced Placement. In addition, I serve as the Science Department Chairperson and am a member of the school’s Leadership Team. After school, I am the faculty advisor for the district’s FIRST Robotics Team (FRC 1189 the Gearheads). Before coming to Grosse Pointe I taught science and mathematics in Ghana, West Africa while serving in the Peace Corps. Inquiry science is the pedagogy that I use in the classroom: having students learn science while doing science. I turned my enthusiasm for this methodology into a 4-week summer workshop where I train physics teachers in the Modeling Method, an inquiry methodology for teaching high school physics.
    I continually present at local, state, and national teaching conferences.  I am a member of many professional organizations: Network of Michigan Educators, AAPT, NSTA, MSTA, MI-AAPT and DMAPT where I find some of the my most rewarding experiences.  I has a B.S. in biochemistry and an M.A in teaching from Wayne State University. In addition, I received inquiry physics training at Arizona State University. I am a certified physics and chemistry teacher. 
    In 2011 I won the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science and Mathematics Teaching (PAEMST).  This award, given by the White House and the National Science Foundation is awarded to two teachers per state per year (one science and one mathematics).  The year that Don won there were 97 recipients from all over the country.   
    When asked about the award I said, “This award is a way for me to honor and celebrate all of the wonderful teachers who inspired me. Education is a legacy and it is our mission to inspire students as well as other teachers toward quality education on all levels. Good teachers are continually developing and sharing quality practice. In this service we dedicate so much time and energy, and this award is an affirmation that there are tangible rewards for all of our hard work and dedication.”
    I feel that the key to success in teaching is twofold; finding a teaching group with whom to learn from and grow and lots and lots of professional development.   In the Detroit Metro area I am a member of the DMAPT Detroit Metro Area Physics Teachers which is a group that meets 5 times a year to exchange teaching ideas.  This group continues to invigorate and rejuvenate all of the teachers in attendance.  As for professional development, I spent the first 6 summers doing training to become a better teacher.  So much of becoming a good teacher happens after you leave education school and I feel it is every teacher’s responsibility to make it happen!
    On the personal side of life I have been married since 2006 and have three kids; Marshall 4, Dexter 2 and Brooklyn ½.  My wife Amanda is the secret to my success – which is not really that much of a secret.   

    Website: bit.ly/mrpata
    Twitter: @mr_pata
    Twitter: @GPNPhysics

    Instagram: instagram.com/donpata27