Laie Elementary teacher Colleen Spring has been named the 2013 Hawaii History Teacher of the Year, the Hawaii Council for the Humanities (HCH) announced today.
The award is co-sponsored by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, HISTORY® and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation on behalf of its Preserve America program, and administered locally by the HCH.
Spring, who has been at Laie Elementary for over 20 years, has taught a wide range of grade levels and core subjects including American history, the U.S. Constitution and world history. She initiated and coordinated the We the People, the Citizen and the Constitution curriculum for the school to assist all fifth-grade students in becoming informed citizens who participate in the democratic process.
Under her leadership, Laie Elementary students have earned the special distinction of being the only fifth graders on Oahu to participate as a showcase group at the We the People state competition. Spring has also been instrumental in promoting National History Day at Laie Elementary.
“Colleen has been a leader in introducing elementary school students to the importance of learning from primary source documents and using these to create History Day projects, especially performances, that show the power, relevance, and contemporary significance of history,” said HCH Executive Director Bob Buss.
For the past five years, Spring’s students have qualified for and competed at the National History Day contest at the University of Maryland in College Park. She has helped a number of students reach their History Day project goals as well as gain a greater appreciation for historical research through primary and secondary documents.
“Mrs. Spring is an extraordinary U.S. history teacher,” said Lea Albert, complex area superintendent for Castle-Kahuku. “Her high expectations, energy and skill serve to create an environment where U.S. history flourishes and student projects are remarkable for their quality.”
Spring will be recognized as the Hawaii State History Teacher of the Year at a special awards ceremony, sponsored by HCH and the Hawaii State Department of Education, at 1 p.m. on Oct. 2 at Laie Elementary. She will receive a $1,000 honorarium and will be in the running to be named the 2013 National History Teacher of the Year this fall. Laie Elementary’s library will receive a core archive of history books and educational materials from the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History and HISTORY®.
Spring will also be invited to a 2014 Gilder Lehrman Teacher Seminar and Laie Elementary will be named a Gilder Lehrman Affiliate School.
“This award gives us the chance to recognize great history teachers across the country,” said Lesley S. Herrmann, executive director of the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. “It puts exceptional educators front and center.”
Inaugurated in 2004, the National History Teacher of the Year Award promotes and celebrates the teaching of American history in U.S. classrooms. The award honors one exceptional K-12 teacher of American history from each of the 50 states, D.C., Department of Defense schools and U.S. territories.
The 2013 award honors elementary school teachers of kindergarten through sixth grade. The selection of the state winner is based upon several criteria, including: at least three years of classroom experience in teaching American history, a demonstrated commitment to teaching American history (including state and local history); evidence of creativity and imagination in the classroom; effective use of documents, artifacts, historic sites, oral histories, and other primary resources to engage students with American history.
From the state winners, one is recognized as the National History Teacher of the Year and will be honored in a fall ceremony. The winner, together with the nominator and two of the winner’s students, will travel to the national recognition ceremony with expenses paid by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.
This is the eighth year that the Hawaii Council for the Humanities has partnered with Gilder Lehrman and selected the winner from Hawaii. Elementary school teachers (grades K through 6) and middle and high school teachers (grades 7 through 12) are honored in separate categories in alternate years. In 2014, the award will go to a middle or high school teacher. Teachers can be nominated for either award throughout the year. For more information about the nomination process, visit gilderlehrman.org/content/national-history-teacher-year.