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Gilder Lehrman Teacher of the Year

The Gilder Lehrman Institute has always been a big supporter of American History education. They’ve got great online resources and host fantastic week-long free summer seminars for teachers. And for the last few years, they’ve been sponsoring a nationwide program to identify the best history teachers in the country through their Teacher of the Year program.

As the state Gilder Lehrman rep for the program, I get the chance to meet some really incredible teachers who are doing super things in the classroom. The program flips back and forth between honoring elementary and secondary teachers every year. This year, the focus is on secondary teachers.

And I’m proud to introduce Nathan McAlister, middle school teacher from Royal Valley Middle School, as the 2010 Kansas Gilder Lehrman Teacher of the Year.

Vickie Wold, a colleague of Nathan, had this to say in her nomination letter:

Nathan has changed what defines history at Royal Valley. Where once read the chapter and answer the questions was known as history, cannons now fire on the playground, dueling pistols sound in the parking lot, Civil War soldiers’ legs are amputated and the White House burns to the ground north of the football field across from the soddy house being built by students.

If you are a parent of one of his students, you might be delivering sod or a covered wagon on your day off. Or you might be coming to the school to help sew costumes for the many reenactments performed by RVMS 7th and 8th grade students.

Mr. McAlister eats, breathes, and sleeps history.  He is truly enthralled by discovering  some new bit of information from the past and helping his students, as well as other staff  members, discover their own new bits of history.

I’ve had the chance to work with Nathan in a variety of settings over the last few years and have been in his class observing his interaction with students. One of the cool things he and his kids last year was to introduce a bill into the Kansas legislature and see it work its way through the House and Senate.

And though I missed the Civil War leg amputation day, I know that what he does works. Nathan is the kind of teacher that I want my kids to have as their teacher . . . so congrats, Nathan, you’re a great pick for Teacher of the Year!

(Nathan is now eligible for the National Teacher of the Year award which will be announced in the fall. You can view all 50 of the 2010 state History Teachers of the Year on the Gilder Lehrman site.)

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