2012 Teacher of the Year
Brian Lee Meechan
Brian Meechan, a grade 11/12 physics teacher at Salem High School, was today named the 2012 Virginia Beach City Public Schools Citywide Teacher of the Year. In a surprise visit made to his classroom this morning, Superintendent Dr. James G. Merrill and Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Joe Burnsworth made the announcement and presented him with an engraved school bell and other congratulatory gifts.
Chosen from an initial pool of 86 teachers, each representing his or her school, Meechan was one of 10 semi-finalists selected to receive classroom visits by the Teacher of the Year Selection Committee. The field was further narrowed when five finalists were individually interviewed by the Committee.
According to Selection Committee Chairperson Dr. Eugene Soltner, who is the principal of Salem Middle School, each of the finalists was an outstanding, creative teacher, personifying the essence of Compass to 2015, the district’s strategic plan. However, Meechan stood out in his “ability to create a learning environment that engages students in real-world applications of the study of physics while eliciting student responses that reflect a deeper understanding of the material and preparedness for the 21st century.” He regularly uses relevant examples to explain concepts while at the same time differentiating his instruction in order to reach all students and promote learning and achievement.
Meechan’s ability to explain difficult material to his students is unique. At any given time, a visitor can walk into his classroom and witness a level of exceptional instruction. His students are interested, intrigued, and motivated to learn and “discover” how physics “lives” in their world. This is evidenced by the fact that his classes are sought after by students. They typically sign up en masse for his courses to the point where there has been a wait list for the past two years. His rapport with his students is remarkable and he has a flair for explaining difficult concepts while maintaining a positive, fun atmosphere in the classroom. This is borne out by the numbers of students who attend his after-school and lunch block tutoring sessions and also speaks to Meechan’s commitment to his students.
Meechan believes that “If math is about solving problems, then physics is about asking questions.” He is proof positive that teaching “enhances, builds, and strengthens” one’s understanding of physics and he finds joy in being able to share and develop that knowledge with students to promote their learning. For Meechan, teaching is about working with his students “to shed new light on classic arguments and to create new debate on current scientific theory.” He truly understands that “the best physics can’t possibly be learned within the confines of a classroom” and therefore works diligently to provide relevant applications of the physics topic he is teaching his students. His students call him “Mr. Physics” and consider him to be one of the best all around teacher/mentors at Salem High School. In fact, in 2010 he received the Students’ Choice as Best Teacher award at Salem High. There is no doubt that Meechan has a talent for teaching and for making learning fun.
Meechan is an 11-year veteran teacher, with nine of those years dedicated to Virginia Beach City Public Schools. He began his career in education as a physics and physical science teacher in Maui, HI. In 2002, Meechan joined VBCPS as a life science teacher at Salem Middle School. The following year he accepted the position he currently holds, physics and AP (Advanced Placement) physics teacher at Salem High. Meechan is a National Board Certified teacher who is an inveterate presenter at regional, state, and national conferences and workshops. In addition, he participates in numerous professional organizations such as TOPS (Teachers of Physics Society and CS-AAPT (Chesapeake Section-American Association of Physics Teachers).
Meechan holds a Bachelor of Arts in Physics earned at Ohio State University and a Master of Education in Secondary Education: Math, Science and Technology, also earned at Ohio State.
For more information about Brian Meechan or the 2012 Virginia Beach Schools Teacher of the Year program, please contact the Office of the Deputy Superintendent at 757.263.1390.