The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History has named Katie Blomquist, a fourth grade teacher at Sunrise Valley Elementary School, the 2013 Virginia History Teacher of the Year. She will receive a cash award of $1,000 and is eligible for the National Teacher of the Year Award, which is presented in the fall. The school will also be presented with an archive of primary historical materials in her honor. On Monday, June 17 she was presented the award in a ceremony at Sunrise Valley Elementary, with representatives from the Virginia Department of Education and the county social studies office on hand.
Blomquist is in her ninth year teaching, six of which have been at Sunrise Valley. Fourth grade social studies in Fairfax County Public Schools is centered on Virginia’s history, a subject she is very passionate about. Integrating outside sources and hands-on activities is a major part of her teaching style, as Blomquist explains when addressing her teaching philosophy: “The kids enjoy it more if you get them away from the textbook and get them involved. Actually acting out things or getting their hands on objects and really diving more into the story.”
Principal Beth English also had high praise for Blomquist: “She builds each student’s sense of inquiry and wonder, creating a classroom of lifelong learners and history buffs.”
Blomquist captures her students’ knowledge and interests: “They get the morality of issues; they understand the ethics behind things very quickly,” she says, adding, “For them to be able to understand that and the economic and political sides of things is something they really enjoy.”
The Gilder Lehrman Institute is a nonprofit organization devoted to the improvement of history education. Each year the organization gives out awards and resources to schools in all 50 states, and its programs have been recognized by awards from the White House, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Organization of American Historians.