On November 11, Humanities Texas board member Joy Ann Havran joined representatives from the offices of State Senator Jane Nelson and U.S. Representative Kenny Marchant to present Stephanie Bakintas of Grapevine with her Outstanding Teaching of the Humanities Award.

Ms. Bakintas teaches AP world history, a course she was instrumental in establishing at Grapevine High School, where she also serves as National Honor Society advisor.

Catherine Henry, associate principal at Grapevine High School, said, “In her commitment to her students and her colleagues, Stephanie Bakintas is the epitome of all that is good in teaching. Her acuity, vivacity, and the breadth of her approach to teaching most certainly qualify her as an outstanding teacher of the humanities.”

“I hope that as a history teacher I have opened up horizons that my students would not have known about otherwise,” said Ms. Bakintas. “I have seen students become much more open to learning about cultures that are different from their own. They embrace the different art, music, and culture of all peoples.”

Ms. Bakintas’s innovative classroom activities challenge her students to examine and understand the cultures of non-Western societies. Her students analyze Chinese and Russian social realism, listen to Japanese flute music, and plan and create their own hypothetical civilizations. Ultimately, they leave the classroom with a deeper appreciation for and interest in other cultures.

On December 8, Humanities Texas board member Albert S. Broussard presented Bobby Slovak of College Station with an Outstanding Teaching of the Humanities Award.

Mr. Slovak teaches government and U.S. history at A&M Consolidated High School, where he also sponsors the Young Democrats and Young Republicans clubs. Mr. Slovak engages his history and government classes in thought-provoking activities in which students examine historical situations, become involved with political causes and campaigns, and assume the roles of legislators, attorneys, and judges. His students leave his classroom with a deeper appreciation of how the humanities are relevant to their own lives.

Kelly Kovacs, associate principal at A&M Consolidated High School, said, “Mr. Slovak’s lessons invite students into the world of government, placing them in the shoes of the legislature working to pass bills, holding discussions in subcommittees, and making presentations on the floor, while never leaving his room.”

“I feel that I have been called to teaching so that I might help young people develop into caring and active citizens of their communities, their nation, and their world,” said Mr. Slovak. “Rather than just teach about presidents and wars, I prefer to teach the things that students can best relate to—the history of people and movements and how it relates to their world, the development of their own ethics, respect for the rule of law and due process, and attitudes of civic virtue.”

Read an article about Mr. Slovak from the Bryan-College Station Eagle.

Stephanie Bakintas.
Bobby Slovak and students. Photo by Dave McDermand.