Janet Ventrella named 2013 Maine History Teacher of the Year

Janet Ventrella, a teacher at Livermore Elementary School in Livermore, has been named the 2013 Maine History Teacher of the Year.  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. 

Ventrella is in her ninth year of teaching at Livermore Elementary School.  She is a graduate of the University of Maine Farmington and routinely designs lessons and projects which integrate social studies and language arts for her fifth grade students.

In Ventrella’s personal statement of her philosophy, she wrote, “I believe that meaningful learning comes from real life problems, relevant materials and hands-on assignments.  An integrated classroom allows students to make learning connections across the curriculum….Sensitive topics such as discrimination against immigrants in the early 20th century, environmental malpractices leading to the Dustbowl, religious persecution during the Holocaust and gender equality through women’s suffrage are a regular part of my classroom.  I believe students cannot become responsible citizens and active members of society if they do not study, understand and appreciate history.”

Robert Kahler, principal of Livermore Elementary School, describes Ventrella with these words:  “By any and every measure, Janet is an example of what is right in public education.  Her students consistently achieve high levels of academic growth by both internal and external measures…She is a reflective practitioner who constantly seeks ways to improve her instruction and to increase student learning and engagement through designing meaningful lessons with real world applications.”

Ventrella received a $1,000 honorarium and the school’s library received a core archive of history books and educational materials from the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History and HISTORY®.  She will also be invited to a 2014 Gilder Lehrman Teacher Seminar and Livermore Elementary School was 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 classrooms across the United States.   The award honors one exceptional K-12 teacher of American history from each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Department of Defense schools and US 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.

Nominations can be made by a student, parent, colleague, supervisor, or other administrator familiar with the teacher’s work. To be considered for the 2014 award, secondary teachers (grades 7-12) must be nominated by Feb. 1. For more information about the nomination process, visit www.gilderlehrman.org/nhtoy.