Donna Tam/The Times-Standard
Article Launched: 10/20/2008 01:17:34 AM PDT
A local middle school social studies teacher is being recognized with a statewide award for his ability to get students engaged in American history. At a ceremony held this morning, Jacoby Creek School's Kirk Goddard is being named California's History Teacher of the Year. ”I know there's lots of great history teachers in this area so to be selected is obviously a great honor,” Goddard said, adding that he credits parents and the school for providing a great overall learning environment for his students. He said his success is a team effort. ”We’ve got a lot of motivated kids, excellent parental support,” Goddard said. “I work with outstanding people that definitely deserve recognition for what they do.”
The award, given by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History and Preserve America, will be presented by Congressman Mike Thompson. According to a press release, the award, now in its fifth year, promotes and celebrates the teaching of American history in classrooms across the United States. It honors one exceptional K-12 teacher of American history from each state and U.S. territory. This year, only middle and high school teachers were eligible for nomination.
The selection of the state winner is based upon several criteria, including: at least three years of classroom experience in teaching American history; a deep career commitment to teaching American history; evidence of creativity and imagination in the classroom that address literacy and content beyond state standards; close attention to primary documents, artifacts, historic sites, and other primary materials of history, including oral history; and evidence of thoughtful assessment of student achievement.
The award also comes with a $1,000 honorarium, which Goddard has used to purchase a new laptop for the classroom, and a chance to be in the running for the National History Teacher of the Year award, to be selected this fall. Jacoby Creek's library will receive history books and materials from Gilder Lehrman, as well.
Goddard praised Jack Bareilles, the state coordinator for the award, for Bareilles' work to improve history curriculum throughout the region. Bareilles said Goddard was chosen for being able to keep his students engaged, using primary documents such as eyewitness accounts. “He and his kids go into great depth in American history,” he said. Bareilles said that as a former Arcata High School teacher who has had Goddard's former students in his class, he has seen testament to Goddard's exemplary teaching skills first hand.
”These are students who were just so excited about American history ... He was our clear choice,” he said.
Goddard said his students make it easy to be a good teacher and he enjoys helping them to see the relevance of history in their lives. ”I just happen to love the subject matter and I love to teach it,” he said. “And, I know the kids know that I love to teach it and they respond.”
For more information about the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, visit www.gilderlehrman.org.