I was asked a question for a small article that will be featured in the winter issue of School and Community, the regular magazine for the Missouri State Teachers Association. The question concerning my state-level award as the History Teacher of the Year (selected by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, asked about what the award means to me personally. My answer follows:
When I learned that I was selected as Missouri's History Teacher of the Year by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, I was gobsmacked. This was a year when there were more nominees than ever. I was thankful to be nominated by two of my fourth graders, and I took the application process very seriously, but there are many more knowledgeable teachers in our state, and while I was hopeful, I did not expect to make the top spot.
The award comes during the last year of a 32-year career as an elementary classroom teacher. To me, it is an indication that I have not stopped. From that humble beginning year when I didn't know what a lesson was supposed to look like to this year when I am filling out retirement forms, I have continued to give, create, and find every way I can to reach my students.
If our communities are ever to encourage civil conversation and create informed citizens, we have to learn from our mistakes. If there was ever an area where we can demonstrate Growth Mindset and academic rigor it is in history and civics. Unfortunately, there aren't very many who could specialize in these areas at the elementary level, and frankly, history has been compartmentalized to the point that some are scared of it.
The award has opened doors for me in my post-retirement. I am now involved with the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History as a Master Teacher (hopefully working with professional development and curriculum development soon). I'm always open to working with new teachers and teacher candidates, doing public speaking, and leading professional development with teachers and schools upon request.