Marilee Stockton, who recently retired from a distinguished thirty-seven-year teaching career with the McAllen Independent School District, is a veteran of the Humanities Texas teacher professional development program. She attended three summer institutes, and in 2010, served on the institute faculty as a master teacher. In 2011, she coauthored an article that was published in the spring edition of the Social Studies Texan, which focused on the use of drama and act-it-outs in the social studies classroom. During her last year in the classroom, McAllen ISD named her Secondary Teacher of the Year.
Below, Marilee reflects on her experiences with Humanities Texas and explains why she supports our organization as a member of the Friends program.
By joining the Friends of Humanities Texas you provide an ongoing source of support for the organization. Renewing your membership each year will make you eligible for a number of membership benefits. Learn more on our Friends of Humanities Texas page.
My affiliation with Humanities Texas began in 2004 when I attended the "Institute on Congress and American History" in Austin, Texas. This program—Humanities Texas's inaugural professional development institute for Texas teachers—was truly an extraordinary experience, one that I wish all humanities teachers could be a part of at some point in their careers. I met and interacted with authors, journalists, former members of Congress, and professors whose knowledge, expertise, and level of commitment were unsurpassed. The participating teachers were treated with the utmost respect, and all of the faculty members were supportive and genuinely appreciative of our contributions as educators.
Our training included small group sessions with faculty members who were all experts in their fields. We were provided with activities and exceptional primary source documents, all of which I used in my classroom and shared with my colleagues. I also had the opportunity to meet and have my picture taken with Lady Bird Johnson, a keepsake that I kept on my desk and shared with my students over the years. That picture, and my experiences at the institute, helped my students to make a more personal connection to our nation's past.
I also attended the 2007 institute in Lubbock, Texas, called "The West and the Shaping of America." At this program, I met and ate lunch with one of the authors of the textbook we were using in our classrooms! That was an extraordinary opportunity, which again I was able to share with my students.
Three years later, I participated in "Shaping the American Republic" in Laredo, Texas. This time I was there as both a participant and a faculty member. I served on a panel discussion of master teachers, whose aim was to help the early-career teachers in attendance to implement what they were learning at the institute in their own classrooms.
As a newly retired teacher, I can honestly say that all three institutes were among the most memorable highlights of my thirty-seven-year career. I used to love watching the reaction of teachers new to the Humanities Texas programs because it was like watching a kid on Christmas morning. They were amazed to be part of an experience that, for a teacher, was so useful, gratifying, and inspiring.
I believe that Humanities Texas, as an organization, is more important now than ever before. Budget cuts and an emphasis on math and science are making drastic inroads in the teaching of humanities. Humanities Texas gives support, resources, and validity to affected educators in ways the public school systems are unable to. Humanities Texas also gives awards and grants annually to educational and cultural institutions that help to promote public knowledge and support of the humanities across our state.
In the future, I would love to see Humanities Texas generate even more forums and resources for aspiring authors, journalists, artists, and historians among our student population here in Texas. As a classroom teacher, I was constantly amazed at the potential I saw in my own students. This potential, with extra encouragement and support, could blossom into the next generation of undiscovered talent.
I take great pride in being a Friend of Humanities Texas because I have seen firsthand the impact of their contributions both in education and the community.