High School Physics teacher Carlton Rink Has Flipped
Austin Zeilstra, Class of 2024

In his 37th year of teaching, Mr. Rink knows that his students likely won’t remember every equation that he taught them. He knows that the students he coaches won’t always know the right answer or win every competition. He also knows that each student who comes into his classroom, whether for Physics, AP Physics, ACES, or Scholastic Bowl, has God-given gifts and talents, and he’s dedicated his life and career to helping them steward those gifts well. 

Mr. Carlton Rink doesn’t like to sit still. During classes he’ll roam the room with his ever-filled coffee mug, offering advice, occasionally making students self-conscious as he surveys their partially completed physics homework, and also chatting about anything from a student’s soccer game to string theory. He doesn’t like to keep his class stagnant either. For the past 15 years, Mr. Rink has traveled to Kansas City in June, spending a week grading the official College Board AP Physics exams along with 300 colleagues from around the country. This has helped him to learn more about his subject and how best to teach it. He enjoys the camaraderie with his fellow physics enthusiasts and has also picked up important information from those who’ve been working in the field even longer than he has. 

One of the innovations that he learned through grading is the idea of a flipped classroom. This is one of the most unique parts of Mr. Rink’s class, and it involves giving most of his lectures through videos that students watch outside of class. These videos have questions embedded throughout to help engage students in learning about things such as simplifying a system of capacitors. This makes for a more interactive and engaging classroom experience for Mr. Rink and his students. 

Having given many of the same lectures for almost four decades, he explains the benefits of the flipped classroom: “When you’re saying the same thing you’ve said 73 times, sometimes it’s hard to get motivated. So this way, actually, it helps me stay more motivated because I don’t have to keep repeating myself. With a flipped classroom, I can do the things I think are more important: that is interacting with specific kids with their issues tailored for them.” 

“With a flipped classroom, I can do the things I think are more important, that is interacting with specific kids with their issues, tailored for them.”

Similarly, the flipped classroom allows for a more collaborative learning experience. Students come to class and have the chance to work with other classmates and Mr. Rink on homework and labs. This helps build relationships between students and Mr. Rink, who is more than happy to answer questions and give one-on-one, patient help. Plus, it allows students to more fully understand the concepts. 

Beyond his classes, Mr. Rink is actively involved with coaching both Scholastic Bowl and ACES. During his first two years of teaching at Timothy, an ambitious Mr. Rink started both of these academic clubs and has coached them ever since. Scholastic Bowl is an academic trivia competition (similar to Jeopardy) where 5 players work together and alone to answer questions before the other team. ACES, or Academic Challenge in Engineering and Science, is a team competition where individual students take tests in one of seven subjects, and these scores are compared to other teams. 

Both of the teams have been very successful under Mr. Rink’s leadership, with the Scholastic Bowl winning sectionals in 2021 and state in 2017 and ACES winning state for the last two years. When asked what he loves about coaching, Mr. Rink commented: “being part of those teams helps students to see their potential and to develop their gifts.”

In all areas of Mr. Rink’s service to Timothy, he puts God at the forefront. Each day he opens his first period physics class with a prayer, quoting from Psalm 118:24: “This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Mr. Rink does not use this verse idly, but models to his students what it means to rejoice and be glad in the days God has made. Rejoicing in God’s incredible creation, from the laws of physics to the human minds that discovered them, is second nature to Mr. Rink, and is something he instills in all his students. 

But perhaps most importantly to Mr. Rink, we can rejoice in the days our Lord has made by using our gifts and abilities to His glory. 

When asked why he keeps coming back to Timothy, Mr. Rink said, “It’s what God wants me to do. I think He’s gifted me to be a teacher…it’s a calling.” He wants his students to find their calling and use their gifts, too.

“With all gifts come great stewardship opportunities,” is Mr. Rink’s vaguely Uncle
Ben-ish maxim. This idea, that Christians are given the responsibility and opportunity to use their gifts and lives to honor God, guides Mr. Rink’s life, teaching, and hope for his students. “It’s one of those kind of mysterious things. When you…follow the will of God in your life, I think it leads to fulfillment, peace, joy, maybe some pain…but in the end, all the things that God calls you to are not only responsibilities, but opportunities for growth and peace and joy.”

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