CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Mary Ann Gaston, a sixth grade teacher at Pleasant Valley School in Marion County, has been named the 2009 West Virginia History Teacher of the Year by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History and Preserve America.
Gaston, who has been teaching social studies, mathematics, science and health in the elementary classroom for 16 years, also has been an adjunct at Fairmont State University for 20 years.
“Teaching history to our youth is a rewarding, invigorating, and more importantly, crucial component of their education,” Gaston said. “Using primary documents and real-life scenarios lay the foundation in which to weave our ancestors’ life stories with our lives today. To step into the future we as a society must gaze into the past by going beyond a traditional textbook riddled with facts to a living history emphasizing the people, documents and events that led us to today and pave the way for our tomorrows.”
Gaston will receive a $1,000 honorarium and will be in the running for the National History Teacher of the Year award to be selected this fall. Pleasant Valley School also will receive a core archive of history books and educational materials from the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.
“Great history teachers take required coursework and turn it into a personal experience for their students," said state Superintendent of Schools Steve Paine. "Instead of just telling a story about our past through lectures and textbooks, they encourage students to discover their heritage so that they understand the connection between history and their day-to-day lives.”
Gaston has built upon her classroom experience and published Instructional Guides for the NetWorth project and created interdisciplinary juried assessment plans that provide personal finance instructional strategies for teachers on the West Virginia Department of Education’s Teach21 Web site. She also has developed a Project Based Learning unit for elementary teachers that focuses on the concept of balance in science. This unit also has been juried and published on Teach21.
Inaugurated in 2004, the History Teacher of the Year Award is designed to promote, celebrate and encourage the teaching of American history in classrooms across the United States. Ithonors one exceptional teacher of American history from each state and U.S. territory.
“This award provides important recognition for excellent history teachers across the country,” said Lesley Herrmann, executive director of the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. “It has become a coveted prize for educators.”
For more information, contact Regina Scotchie, social studies coordinator at the West Virginia Department of Education, at (304) 558-558-5325, or the Office of Communications at (304) 558-2699.
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