Five New Teachers Join Massachusetts Academy at WPI

Contact: WPI Media Relations, 508-831-5616

Worcester, Mass. -- Five new teachers at the Massachusetts Academy of Mathematics and Science are joining the 49 entering juniors and 37 returning seniors at the public high school for exceptionally-talented students in mathematics and science. The academy is a collaborative effort of the commonwealth, WPI and the school systems of the state.

"The academy is fortunate in recruiting these outstanding teachers," says Robert Savatelli, director of the academy. "The Visiting Scholar Program is part of the academy's original mission of transferring a model curriculum to public school systems through development programs for teachers."

Four of the teachers are visiting scholars in mathematics, science, computer science, and humanities for a year while one is a master teacher of mathematics at the academy.

The Master Teacher of Mathematics is James A. Barys of Oakham, Mass. Barys comes to the academy from Wachusett Regional High School in Holden, Mass. where he taught mathematics for grades 9-12 since 1970. He is a graduate of Colby College with a degree in mathematics/psychology. He earned his master's degree in mathematics from Clark University and has continued his professional training at Bowdoin College, St. Johnsbury Institute and Harvard College. He has also been a presenter at mathematics conferences throughout the U.S.

Gray N. Harrison of Jefferson, Mass. is a Visiting Scholar of Science. He comes from Leicester High School where he taught mathematics, physics and physical science. Before receiving his teaching certificate and bachelor's degree in mathematics education from Boston University and doing coursework and certification in science education from UMass Lowell, Harrison worked in the prefabricated component industry. He has served as freshman, assistant varsity and varsity math team coach at Leicester High School. He has attended professional workshops and summer programs and is currently working with PALMS on the active physics curriculum.

Robert D. Knittle of Worcester, Mass. is a Visiting Scholar of Mathematics. He comes from Quabbin Regional School District where he has taught in the elementary, middle and high school since his arrival there in 1986. His education includes a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Assumption College and a master's of education degree from the University of Massachusetts. Knittle has authored curriculum for a new two-year algebra program, and developed and supervised after-school remediation program for middle school students. He's been cited as an honored teacher seven times by the National Honor Society and in 1999 by the Massachusetts Academy of Mathematics and Science. He has served as a soccer and basketball coach at middle and high school level and is actively involved in his church.

Patricia Wood Higgins of Acton, Mass. is a Visiting Scholar of Humanities and comes from Samoset Middle School in Leominister, Mass. where she has taught since 1995. Previously, she taught English and history at the Johnny Appleseed School and English at the May A. Gallagher Junior High School, both in Leominster. She is a graduate of the University of North Carolina where she received her bachelor's and M.A.T degrees in English education. Higgins has completed postgraduate work at Fitchburg State College, University of New Hampshire and Lesley College. Additionally, she led a workshop on "Using Writing Portfolios in the Middle School Language Arts Classroom" at Fitchburg State College and participated in numerous professional workshops.

Norman Wittels of Brookline, Mass. is a Visiting Scholar of Computer Science. Wittels is an adjunct associate professor of computer science and civil engineering at WPI. He is a graduate of MIT where he received his bachelor's, master's and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering. Wittels has worked in industry and was an exchange scientist at the Ioffe Physico-Technical Institute in Leningrad, Russia. He has given invited technical presentations to government and professional groups, is a co-author of a best-selling university textbook, and published more than 50 technical papers.

For more information on the Massachusetts Academy of Mathematics and Science, visit www.massacademy.org.