GILDER LEHRMAN INSTITUTE Stacy Hoeflich: History Teacher of the Year 2011
By Elise Grace, Jennifer MacGregor and Marissa Schain
Recently, the History Channel, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, and Preserve America sponsored the National History Teacher of the Year 2011 awards ceremony at the Frederick Douglass Academy in New York. Founder of the Gilder Lehrman Institute, Richard Gilder, was in attendance throughout the event. The award honors outstanding teachers of U.S. history across the nation. Stacy Hoeflich, a fourth-grade history teacher at John Adams Elementary School in Alexandria, Va., won this year’s top prize.
“Great teachers don’t just teach history — they shape our futures,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg remarked in his introduction of Hoeflich. He said that there’s a big difference between reading something in a history book and truly understanding history and having it brought to life — as great teachers, like Hoeflich — do for their students.
James Basker, the president of the Gilder Lehrman Institute, lauded the Frederick Douglass Academy as a shining example of a school that embraces U.S. history. According to Basker, 88 percent of the students who are eligible to take the AP exam in U.S. history score 3 or higher, and more than 90 percent go on to college.
Dr. Libby O’Connell, senior vice president of corporate outreach and chief historian at the History Channel, was impressed by Hoeflich, who after taking a course about the life of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, used that newly acquired knowledge to guide her students to write, produce and perform three operas on George Mason, Thomas Jefferson and Virginia’s Indians.
Hoeflich “stands on the shoulders of those educators who enliven the past and bring history to life. It’s important to explore and enjoy our heritages,” said Clement Price, a professor of history at Rutgers University.
Hoeflich reflected on her experiences with her junior-year high school history teacher, who imbued her with a love of the subject. She said that winning this award has fulfilled a dream she had to be as good of a history teacher as her mentor. This teacher inspired Hoeflich to take her own students on field trips, such as one to Jamestown, Va., to see and feel history.
Hoeflich challenges her students by using primary sources in the classroom to engage them in “real historical discourse,” even thought they are only 9 and 10 years old.
Previous winners who were in attendance included Tim Bailey, the 2009 winner, who teaches eighth-grade U.S history at Northwest Middle School in Salt Lake City, Utah. He feels teaching students their rights and responsibilities as citizens of this country is vitally important. “Understanding where we came from will help create a sense of where we’re going,” he said.
Louise Mirrer, the president and CEO of the New-York Historical Society, applauds the way that the History Teacher of the Year award puts a spotlight on history and history teachers, and believes the awards contribute to making a positive difference in the way history is perceived.
Finalists are chosen in each of the 50 states, Washington, D.C., U.S. Territories, and Department of Defense schools. Each state honoree earns $1,000 and a collection of books and resources from Gilder Lehrman and the History Channel. From the state finalists, judges select a national winner who is honored for his or her commitment to the study and love of U.S. history and dedication to sharing this knowledge and passion with students. #
Watch the live coverage of the award ceremony at EducationUpdate.com