I first came to California from Cleveland, Ohio to study at Humboldt State in 1969 and I never left. Even in high school I knew I wanted to be an educator but I also cared about nature and natural resources. In fact, even at my age I still love to get out into nature. Skiing, hiking, biking and tumbling are all big hobbies of mine. There’s nothing quite like the feeling on being on the side of a mountain after a snowfall and just listening to the silence, feeling the magnitude of it all.
I originally studied oceanography, but found that I practically got sea sick in still water so I changed my emphasis to physics. I received my Masters in Physics and another Masters in Education Administration from Cal State Northridge. I’ve been teaching 34 years, first starting at North Hollywood High before moving over to Pierce College in 1989.
I’ve been married for 25 years now. I have two older stepsons and one son. My son went to Pierce and is pursuing his degree at Cal State Northridge.
The thing I enjoy most about physics is that it is a collection of natural laws that define how the world really works. These laws show that on a basic level of reality that things make sense. One of my hopes as an educator is to communicate to my students that human beings have the capability to figure things out, just like the great scientists of history were able to figure out the laws of physics. I hope that this will help my students better appreciate life and gain enough knowledge and perspective so they can make better, more informed decisions in their own lives.
As a union member, our unions push for additional funds for education because our goal is to contribute to a better, more educated society. You simply cannot have a civilized society without adequate education and that is something I’m proud to know I’ve contributed to.
I’m very excited about the new planetarium soon to be opened on Pierce’s campus, in part because it was my vision. I teach several courses on astronomy which I use as a hook to discuss the importance of physics to a broader audience. The planetarium uses a variety of digital sky computer driven projectors to teach many different lessons. As our society has become more media-orientated and visual, I think it will be a powerful tool to reach out to our student body because seeing is believing.
There’s an incredibly vast universe out there, but the laws that govern it also govern the basic mechanics of being that affect all of us moment to moment. That continuity and perspective is important to teach our students to better understand life itself. I’m proud to be a part of that process of discovery.
My name is Don Sparks... and I AM UNION!