Signe Peterson makes history come alive for her eighth-grade history class in South Houston by coordinating and chaperoning a yearly nine-day trip to Washington D.C. Abigail Morton-Garland, a social studies teacher at IDEA College Preparatory Academy in Donna, uses primary source materials, book clubs, and even costumes to impart an exciting and multicultural perspective on world history. Jay L. Clack, an English and humanities teacher at Breckenridge High School, established an educational study abroad program to immerse his students in European language and literature.

These teachers, along with nine of their peers, received Outstanding Teaching Awards from Humanities Texas for the 2008–09 academic year. The awards, which recognize excellence in K-12 humanities instruction in Texas, provide each recipient with a $5,000 award plus an additional $500 for their schools to purchase humanities-based instructional materials.

Mr. Clack, of Breckenridge, received the James F. Veninga Outstanding Teaching of the Humanities Award, named for the former executive director of Humanities Texas (then known as the Texas Council for the Humanities) to honor his twenty-three years of extraordinary contributions to the state council and to the public humanities. The recipient of the Veninga award is chosen from the applicants for the Outstanding Teaching of the Humanities Award.

Elizabeth Chapman of Westbrook Intermediate School in Friendswood received the Linden Heck Howell Outstanding Teaching of Texas History Award, which was established in memory of Ms. Howell, a former chair of the Humanities Texas board of directors, as a lasting tribute to her commitment to the study of Texas history. Ms. Chapman's interdisciplinary approach encourages students to think from historical perspectives. For example, she has students design their own role-playing video games with a historical Texan, such as a sharecropper, a railroad executive, or a women's rights advocate, as the main character.

Is there a humanities teacher in your community who inspires excellence in his or her students and opens up new perspectives? Until December 11, 2009, Humanities Texas will accept nominations for the 2009–10 Outstanding Teaching of the Humanities Awards and the Linden Heck Howell Outstanding Teaching of Texas History Award. Nominees must be full-time teachers in Texas public or private schools who teach humanities subjects, such as English, language arts, foreign languages, history, or social studies. Teachers of art, drama, and music are eligible if they emphasize the history, criticism, and theory of the arts. Only teachers of Texas history courses are eligible for the Linden Heck Howell Outstanding Teaching of Texas History Award.

For more information on nomination procedures, including the 2009–10 nomination form, visit the Outsanding Teaching Awards page on our website.

Marble Falls High School Principal Allen Roberts, Representative Mike Conaway's District Director Nancy Watson, 2007–08 award-winner Shirlene Bridgewater, and Humanities Texas Executive Director Michael L. Gillette at Bridgewater's recognition ceremony. Photo by Humanities Texas.