Two Northern Michigan Teachers Nominated for ‘National History Day’ Teacher of the Year
“Within the education community, people are sort of born for this. It kind of comes naturally to some people.
For Mr. Brent McCall of Traverse City and Mr. Russell Norris of DeTour Village – two social studies professors in northern Michigan,
It really has a new meaning this year.
“I was excited but at the same time I was almost humbled by the idea, do I really deserve this the most? Because I know and have worked with teachers who are in the district and at the outside the district, who do so many things,” says McCall.
McCall and Norris were nominated for national history day teacher of the year, representing Michigan State.
McCall teaches social studies at Traverse City East Middle School.
Norris teaches high school social studies at DeTour Arts and Technology Academy in UP
“I think this is about the 11th year that we’ve had History Day. For me, it’s an opportunity to promote a program that I really like. It really helps me as a teacher. It’s a phenomenal resource, which benefits children,” says Norris.
McCall says, “It allows me to get them to think critically as if you were there, if you had to make that choice, letting them explore some of the historical voices.”
The National History Day contest recognizes a history or social studies teacher who is truly committed to engaging students in active learning.
DeTour students Sophia DePaul and Calvin McCloskey created a project on the Cuban Missile Crisis.
“A lot of teachers make History Day optional or they don’t focus on it as much, our teacher definitely makes it a big part of our school year. would if you weren’t researching for History Day,” DePaul says.
McCloskey says, “It gives us a huge opportunity to learn more about something that interests you.”
Principal Marshall Perkins of Traverse City East Middle School shares his thoughts, “I think our program here is hands-on activities that really encourage kids to create metacognition, which is the idea of creating meaning for themselves. .”
Each year, National History Day focuses on a historical theme, ggive students the opportunity to create projects around this theme.
This year, the focus was on “Debate and Diplomacy”.
Norris says, “A lot of them have done things like race issues. The one on the Cuban Missile Crisis happened even before the Ukrainian invasion, and it just seemed like they were really onto something. They connected the present and the past.
McCall shares, “A lot of students tend to choose subjects like women’s rights movements, the abolitionist movement. Some students like to stick to the creation period of the Constitution.
But being nominated for teacher of the year, IIt’s so much more for Mr. McCall and Mr. Norris.
“Sometimes social studies seems to take precedence over English, math and science, but in my mind, schools are really designed to educate people to be citizens…and prepare them for their careers and the future. university,” says Norris.
McCall says, “Social studies is, yes it’s geography, yes it’s history, yes it’s politics and government and everything, but at its core social studies is really the study of people and the understanding of human beings.”
And one thing – from every teacher – that every student should remember…
McCall says, “One thing that I think is important to ingrain in all students, whether it’s social studies or not, is always to ask, ‘What’s your perspective?’ but also ‘what is the perspective of others?’
Norris says, “I’ve talked to the students about it a lot, you know you’re living the story. You are witnesses to history right now.