2015 Patricia Behring Teacher of the Year Winners
E.L. Haynes High School
NHD Teacher since 2013
I believe strongly that students are most likely to be engaged in education when it allows them choice, the opportunity to pursue their passions, and to create meaningful, high quality products for an authentic audience. NHD allows students to do this with historical content. In my US History class, it has helped to facilitate setting high expectations for students and it’s been thrilling to watch them rise to those expectations.
It’s so difficult to choose just one person, so my answer to this question rotates every time! Today I would choose Gandhi. I think that his role in history, not just as an activist but as a teacher of the philosophy of non-violence, is critical for us to learn from. I’m passionate about civil rights history and I think one major challenge we face in helping young people today learn from the lessons of the past is that our historical memory is not very transparent about the fact that non-violence was not just a spirit possessed by a set of superhero leaders, but was a skillset and a philosophy that people trained for, that they attended schools like Highlander to learn and practice, and then used strategically based on collective organizing. I want to learn more about this philosophy and also how to serve as a teacher of non-violent resistance.
NHD has allowed my students to create high quality work that they are proud of. It has instilled a culture of craftsmanship in my classroom and allowed students to exceed the expectations they have of themselves and their peers. When I first implemented the NHD program, I did it in my lowest performing classes, composed primarily of students with special needs, English Language Learners, and students who had failed a history class in the previous year. The quarter we focused most heavily on NHD, I had the highest pass rate of all the quarters of the year, the highest engagement, and the most students who were excited to come to class and passionate about completing work.
I want students to remember that, when they started, they thought this was going to be too hard, that they couldn’t do it, and that this would be too big of a struggle, but through perseverance, clear planning and organization, and deep research, they would be able to create something beyond what they thought was possible. I hope they apply this to all challenges they face in the future and, instead of backing down, rise to the occasion and exceed the expectations they have for themselves.
Conway Junior High School
NHD Teacher since 1976
After my first full year as a National History Day instructor, I realized that my students were TOTALLY invested in the learning in a way that was truly authentic. They were DRIVING the learning, and I was along for the ride. It has been a privilege witness them grow as a result of the process.
“Few will have the greatness to bend history itself; but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation.” – Robert Kennedy
Harry Truman! I was always an admirer, but after reading David McCullough’s book, Truman, that cemented my beliefs about him, his integrity, independence and temerity. Assuming the presidency in the wake of Roosevelt’s death was a hard act to follow, and that is an understatement. The fact that he was from Missouri, a former slave state steeped in southern culture, and issued Executive Order 9981 in 1948 speaks for itself. Israel was also recognized as a state under his administration.
I firmly believe that National History Day teaches students how to research, analyze, write, speak and see a high quality project to its end. In other words, it teaches the whole college skill set! I witness students begin to think like a historians. In addition, students are INSPIRED by their project choices. My former students who are now in college and in the workforce always tell me, “Thank goodness for History Day. I was far better prepared to navigate the demands of college than my peers.” That is my reward!
Often, in process of choosing and developing a History Day project, my students discover something that gets lost in the curriculum. History is the story of people who persevere in the face overwhelming odds and often affect great change for the better. I hope they internalize this and dare to be part of the change that makes a difference in their lives and the lives of others in their communities.
Quality teachers are critical to student success. NHD recognizes their outstanding work and dedication to their students and the NHD program through offering annual teaching awards. Do you know an outstanding NHD educator? Then nominate him or her for one of our awards.
Patricia Behring sponsors the Patricia Behring Teacher of the Year Award, which recognizes outstanding NHD teachers. Two winners, one at both the junior level and senior level, will be selected from each affiliate. The winners of the national awards will be selected from among the affiliate awardees. Each affiliate winner will be awarded $500 and the national winners will receive $10,000. Applications are due to affiliate coordinators by March 14, 2016.
Use the nomination forms below: