One veteran U.S. history teacher and one dedicated English and writing teacher in San Antonio both recently received Outstanding Teaching of the Humanities awards. On October 28, English teacher Lindsey Perret and U.S. history teacher Mark Hansen received their awards at ceremonies held at their schools.
Ms. Perret teaches Pre-AP English and courses for gifted and talented students at the International School of the Americas. She told Humanities Texas that "as a teacher of the humanities, it is [her] goal to produce 21st century literate global citizens … that will read critically, write eloquently, speak thoughtfully, and think broadly."
Ms. Perret devotes her time to students not only in the classroom but also through student organizations. She sponsors Peace Jam, a group that promotes peace through student-designed projects. This fall, the club hosted a lecture by Nobel Peace Prize winner Jody Williams and collected school supplies and books for an under-funded school in Chad. Both of these events support Perret's teaching philosophy: "Students should be given specific knowledge and skills and then should be given the opportunity to display that knowledge and those skills in authentic ways."
Congressman Charles A. Gonzalez and Humanities Texas Senior Program Officer Julia Aguilar presented Ms. Perret with her award. "I congratulate Lindsey Perret on her receipt of such an impressive recognition," said Congressman Gonzalez. "In the immortal words of Henry Adams, 'A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.' Teachers who are inspired by their students and by the awesome role they play in the lives not only of those students but of their communities and of the entire country—that is to say, teachers like Lindsey—hold out the hope of a better and brighter world for us all."
Mr. Hansen earned the same award for teaching in another humanities subject. He has taught U.S. history at San Antonio's Ronald Reagan High School for twelve years.
"As a history teacher," Mr. Hansen explained, "it's important that I teach students how to prepare for all walks of life and see that everyone is important and everyone should have a voice." To help students learn from different perspectives, Mr. Hansen often conducts mock trials in his classroom to teach topics ranging from the Boston Massacre to the internment of Japanese Americans during WWII.
Congressman Lamar Smith presented Mr. Hansen with his award during Hansen's 11th grade U.S. History class. "I have a great respect for Texas teachers and the invaluable work that they do," said Congressman Smith. "I have long considered teaching to be one of the most honorable professions in America. Teachers have one of the greatest responsibilities: that of educating our children. I commend Mr. Hansen for his service to our community and applaud him for this well-deserved honor."
Ms. Perret and Mr. Hansen both received a $5,000 cash award, with an additional $500 for their schools for the purchase of humanities instructional materials.
Mr. Hansen gave an acceptance speech after receiving his award. He has courteously allowed Humanities Texas to reprint his remarks here:
"I’m shocked. I’m thankful and I’m extremely humbled. It is such an honor to be considered to be an Outstanding Teacher of the Humanities when there are so many fantastic educators across this great state who do great things with their students every day. You hope and wonder many times if you are doing a good job, if your students are truly learning, and if they have been influenced in positive ways to do incredible things for our community, nation, and world.
I would like to thank all of you for coming today for this presentation and to say that I'm completely honored and privileged to receive such a wonderful and prestigious award. There are several people and organizations that I would like to extend my appreciation to for this honor.
First and foremost, I’d like to thank Humanities Texas for this award and for being a great supporter of education and of teachers. If you have a chance, you should go to their website and see the amazing array of opportunities they have to seriously enrich one's teaching—from institutes to lectures to exhibits to oral history projects. It’s a truly fantastic organization that supports educators to the highest degree.
Much of their work is done through donations, specifically gifts such as these. So I want to extend my deepest gratitude to those generous donors who made this award possible—those people who give so much to encourage and inspire educators across Texas.
Next, I'd like to thank the Honorable Congressman Lamar Smith for taking time out of his busy schedule not only to present this award to me, but also to come and dialogue with my students for a little while after the presentation. I know they will certainly enjoy that and so will I. And Congressman Smith, if you have some time in the spring, I'd like to invite you back to visit with my AP Government and Politics classes when we cover the legislative branch. I'm guessing you might be able to offer up a few words of wisdom on the inner workings of Congress and 'how a bill becomes a law.'
A very special thank you goes out to Mary Grace Ketner, the team leader of the Texas Curriculum Team I was on, who nominated me for this award. Mary Grace, you are a true leader and true professional in every sense of the word, and I appreciate all you have done for me and for our team. It has truly been a joy of mine to get to work with you and for the past three years on our 'Enduring Communities' project.
Teaching, in my opinion, can be a very difficult, but extremely rewarding profession. One does not become an effective teacher by himself, but rather one gains effectiveness as a teacher by learning from others, by collaborating, by listening, and by doing many other things that successful teachers do. To that end, there are some individuals here that I want to recognize who have helped mold me into the teacher that I am today.
I'd like to thank all the administrators, faculty, and staff both at Driscoll Middle School, where I taught before, and here at Reagan for being such great people to work with. A thank you goes out to Mr. Boyd for taking a risk and hiring me to be a part of this faculty four years ago. I certainly can't forget to give a genuine thank you to all of the students that I've had in the past and currently have now. You guys are the reason that I stay up late and have to drink a lot of Dr. Pepper to prepare these lessons. And I can't forget the Social Studies Departments I've been in (along with my former Department Head Margaret Erickson at Driscoll and my current Social Studies Dean Stephen Gibbs), and all those teachers at both campuses who have offered their support, shared ideas and materials, and made me feel a part of the school family.
Finally, I'd like to honor and thank my own family. My parents were both educators in this school district and inspired me to go into teaching. I’d like to recognize my in-laws, who were both educators in San Antonio as well, who have supported me in my teaching from day one when I became a part of their family. And last, but not least, I'd like to thank my wife, Heather, and my two young children, Hannah and Alex, who all love me and encourage me and support me and put up with all of my teaching stuff all over the house on a daily basis.
Once again, thanks to all of you who have made this accomplishment come true for me."