Farewell to Dr. Bright, Retiring After Five Years at Walls
Dr. Bright with students during spirit week / Credit: Carys Shepard
Walls physics teacher Dr. Thomas Bright will retire at the end of this year. Students might be surprised to learn that he has only been at Walls for five years. During these five years, Dr. Thomas Bright has taught Physics, AP Physics 1, and AP Physics C: Mechanics. In addition to his teaching responsibilities, Dr. Bright is one of the class sponsors for the graduating class of 2023.
“I saw a lot of you guys grow up when you were freshmen, right, and watched you progress through senior year … I’m going out with you as a sponsor. So that’s a good way to close it out,” he said.
Prior to being a physics teacher, Dr. Bright was initially a practicing physicist who conducted research in Europe. After his wife landed a job as a professor in Charlotte, North Carolina, he moved with her back to the U.S.
“I didn’t initially want to be a physics teacher in high school, I wanted to be a college professor,” he said. However, he was unable to find a job as a physics professor and so reverted to his “second choice” of teaching high schoolers.
His time as a researcher helped him as a teacher. “Teaching is actually not all that much different than the research that you do. Because in research very often you engage in discussions where you’re trying to educate your competition. … To some extent that’s the same as what I do with you all as students,” he said.
After that initial job in Charlotte, Dr. Bright taught in Fairfax prior to moving to D.C.
Dr. Bright decided to come to Walls because he wanted to move to a city. Although he described D.C. as “differenter,” he also said that “students are the same everywhere, for the most part.” Wherever he is, he “concentrate[s] on trying to get the best out of [his] students.”
Seniors may know that Dr. Bright typically takes a sick day on a long weekend in the year to spend extra time at his beach house. In retirement, he hopes to spend more time there. “[I’m] looking forward to being able to sit on the beach in the fall and the spring, which is the best time to be at the beach, as opposed to the summer.”
He cited this as a reason for his retirement. “I can’t [go to the beach] if I’m teaching in D.C. in the fall and the spring,” he said.
Dr. Bright does not seek for students to necessarily remember him as a person but rather to remember the best way to do physics. “Physics itself is not hard. That, I think, has come across to most of my students … There’s a certain methodology that you use to break the problem down and make it understandable.”
To quote two of Dr. Bright’s favorite phrases that will hopefully help future Walls students that never have the opportunity to take his class: “It’s not the physics that’s hard, it’s the math” and “Always follow the procedure.”