Ms. Kumkum Bonnerjee, who teaches physics at Cristo Rey St. Martin College Prep, has Fr. John Milton, CSV, on her mind these days, one year after he passed away.

Fr. John Milton with Ms. Kumkum Bonnerjee

She just learned that she has been nominated for a prestigious teaching fellowship through the University of Illinois. Its mission is to provide access to high-quality, advanced physics instruction in high school, in order to open pathways for students into engineering.

The Illinois Physics and Secondary Schools Partnership Program is putting together its fourth cohort of teaching fellows, funded by the National Science Foundation. IPASS brings together Illinois high school physics teachers to participate in intensive professional development experiences, structured around research-based, university-level instructional materials.

Ms. Bonnerjee was nominated by a former CRSM student, José Anaya, who cited her strong drive to support students and improve physics instruction at the school.

Fr. Milton measuring centripetal force in an experiment he brought to the school, called “Can Pigs Fly?”

Preston Kendall, President of Cristo Rey St. Martin, credits Fr. Milton,  a retired physics professor at De Paul University, and founding member of the science staff at Saint Viator High School, who passed away in 2022.

“Fr. Milton took Kumkum under his wing,” he says, “and really helped her become an outstanding physics teacher.”

Fr. Milton spent 10 years serving as a consultant to the science department at the school. Mostly, he worked with Ms. Bonnerjee, in setting up challenging lab experiments, accessing equipment and ultimately creating AP physics and other science courses at the school.

He participated in state and national associations himself, as a way to promote the study of physics, share best practices and labs, and ultimately elevate the field of study at the high school and college levels.

Now, with his former protégé being considered for this university-sponsored teaching fellowship, his legacy continues.