First Lady Laura Bush Presents W.Va. Social Studies Teacher With National Award

October 05, 2006

PARKERSBURG, W.Va. _ Gerry Kohler, a social studies teacher at Van Devender Junior High in Parkersburg, is the 2006 Preserve America History Teacher of the Year. She received the national honor on Thursday, Oct. 5, 2006, in New York from First Lady Laura Bush, honorary chairwoman of the Preserve America initiative.  

"Great history teachers take required coursework and turn it into a thrilling personal experience," Mrs. Bush said. "They don’t just tell the story of America’s past through lectures and textbooks: They encourage students to discover our country’s heritage themselves, through artifacts and primary sources."  

The “Preserve America History Teacher of the Year” Award is a project of the Preserve America White House initiative and is administered and funded by The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. Earlier this year, finalists were selected from each state, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and U.S. Territories in the Pacific. Kohler was selected from the state finalists.  

Kohler, who has 27 years of classroom experience at both the elementary and secondary level, currently teaches ninth grade United States History to 1900. She also is the Vice President of the Wood County Historical Preservation Society and has organized a Junior Historical Society, which encourages students interested in history to help clean up and maintain two historic cemeteries in their community. Future projects include a Civil War campsite.  

“This is a great honor for Gerry, her school, her county and West Virginia,” said Regina Regina Scotchie, social studies coordinator for the West Virginia Department of Education in Charleston.  

Inaugurated in 2004, the History Teacher of the Year Award is designed to promote, celebrate, encourage and honor the teaching of U.S. history in America's school. History teachers from elementary through high school are eligible.  

Winners must have at least three years of experience in teaching American history; a deep career commitment to teaching American history; provide evidence of creativity and imagination in the classroom; and show close attention to documents, artifacts, historic sites and other primary materials of history.

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