Kevin Harman: Physics teacher, Bellefonte Area High School
Faith, family, physics. Those are just a few things Kevin Harman is passionate about.
The physics teacher at Bellefonte Area High School has been in education for about 20 years – and all of it at Bellefonte Area School District teaching physics after graduating from Penn State. He’s also been the department chairman and school’s technology coordinator for about 15 years, and is heading into his 10th season as the golf coach.
“One of the great parts is I get a split day working with kids in a subject matter I really enjoy, and also getting to do other things by helping teachers and working with more kids beyond the physics students,” Harman said. “It broadens who I get to impact throughout the day and allows me to do one of my other passions, which is technology. Physics and technology are both about problem solving, and that’s something I enjoy.”
Harman, an Allentown area native, is also a husband and father of two. Coming from a family of Nittany Lions, Harman also has two degrees from the university – a bachelor’s degree in physics education and a master’s degree in instructional systems.
But it’s time spent in the class that he says is most rewarding.
“Teaching is a joy of mine,” he said. “I teach a very challenging subject and I have a chance to really push kids beyond their comfort level, which has its challenges, but what I get out of that is see kids open up and grow in ways they didn’t know they could. That’s what sparks me to go out and do what I do in the subject matter I enjoy, but it’s secondary to seeing the kids grow.”
Bellefonte Area students are required to take three science classes throughout their time at the secondary level. Those classes include earth science, biology, chemistry and physics – physics having a reputation of being one of the hardest classes at the high school.
But Harman said it has a deeper meaning than just the academic party. He said it’s about problem solving that allows students to put down the book and work on projects with real-world applications, while encouraging the students to take on the challenge.
“Physics allows students to dive deeper into things they deal with every day,” he said. “We talk about moving, running, driving cars and the things they have life experiences with, and then can take that and dig into it a whole lot deeper. The way I teach is a big conversation to open up their eyes to see there are reasons behind it and break a lot of misconceptions.”
At the start of the year, Harman said students may find physics extremely difficult; by the end of the school year, he said they look back at what seemed impossible and realize that now they can do those problems with ease.
“A lot of them have that light bulb moment and realize they may have struggled, but worked hard and got somewhere with it,” Harman said.
Outside of school, Harman and his family are invested in their church, Watermarke Church that meets Sunday morning in the Bellefonte Area Middle School auditorium. Harman is also part of the worship band, playing drums and bass guitar.