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#BRITeacherSpotlight

Educator Spotlight

The Bill of Rights Institute honors and supports educators around the country.

Every month we honor one of our master teachers!

Alexandrea Dudley

EducatorTeacher, Wilby High School, Waterbury, Connecticut

For seven years, Alexandrea Dudley has been living out her dream of teaching history to young people at Wilby High School in Waterbury, Connecticut. “I’ve always wanted to be a teacher, and I love history and thinking about where we have been and where we’re headed and I feel blessed that I get to share that love with my students.” During her time at Wilby, Alexandrea has taught World History, U.S. History, and Civics. Alexandrea received her Bachelor of Arts from Albertus Magnus College in New Haven, Connecticut, and her Master of Education from St. Joseph’s College in Standish, Maine. In addition to teaching, she has also served as Co-Advisor of the National Honors Society at Wilby, Chair of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) Curriculum Committee, and Waterbury Teacher’s Association’s Union Representative. As one of the newest members of BRI’s teacher council, Andrea will also be sharing her experience and passion for teaching social studies this year with nineteen other teachers, while helping write and pilot test resources and programs for teachers in the BRI network throughout the country.

Andi Maceo

EducatorTeacher

Although Andi Maceo comes from a family of educators and has been teaching for 12 years now, she once questioned if she had what it takes to be a teacher. She was working as a recruiter for The Art Institute of Houston when that changed. “I felt I could do more to show kids the opportunities that were available to them,” she recalls. She moved on to teaching art, a position she held for six years. However, she eventually moved into teaching history full time after finding a job as an 11th grade U.S. history educator at her current school, Hastings High School in Houston, Texas. This proved to be a challenging shift as Andi’s background was in European and Latin American history. “I have spent the last 6 years learning everything I can to become effective in U.S. History,” Andi says. Andi has been married to her husband Karl for nearly seven years. They live with their two cats in Missouri City, a small suburb outside of Houston. In her free time, Andi enjoys reading, gardening, cooking, and baking.

Andrea Martin

EducatorHistory and Social Sciences Educator, Dupuy Alternative School, Birmingham, Alabama

“One of the most awesome things about my job,” says Andrea Martin, “is that it is always an adventure.” It’s not hard to see why. As the History and Social Sciences Educator at Dupuy Alternative School in Birmingham, Alabama, Andrea teaches Geography, Civics, Ancient World History, Modern World History, U.S. History, Government and Economics. Andrea has a B.A from the University of North Alabama and a Masters from the University of South Alabama. She has been teaching since 2014 and has been using BRI resources and attending BRI programs since 2017. “I love the Bill of Rights Institute because they’ve opened so many doors for me and for my students with the materials they provide and the way they break down those materials. My students especially love studying the Supreme Court cases [Supreme Court DBQs].” “One of the things I love most about my job is that I get to talk to the kids about how we can apply history to our daily lives,” says Andrea, “especially how we can study history, we can be fully present right now, and we can always change our future.”

Beth Feest

EducatorTeacher

Beth Feest’s first experience with BRI was as an attendee of the 2013 Summer Institute. In her words, “it was a life-changing experience,” and it made her a huge fan of anything produced by BRI since then. She appreciates the staff’s enthusiasm and knowledge and says that the quality of the resources produced is “top-notch.” Beth teaches U.S. History, AP U.S. History, AP European History, and Financial Literacy at Christian Life School in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and is currently a member of BRI’s Teacher Council. In addition, she was recognized by a local VFW post with the Veterans of Foreign Wars’ National Citizenship Education Teacher Post Recognition Award in 2017 and won the Holocaust Educator Award from the Milwaukee Jewish Community Council in 2018. She has been teaching for 29 years and credits her college professor, Dr. Fred Smith, for helping her figure out that she wanted to be an educator. She changed her major second during the second semester of her junior year and still graduated on time! For continued inspiration, she looks up to Major Dick Winters, a WWII veteran and leader of Easy Company in the 2nd Battalion, 506th Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division. She says, “I love his attitude and ability to lead in very tough situations. His motto of “follow me” in combat was/is so inspiring and the type of leader that I want to be.

Brandon Barger

EducatorTeacher

Brandon decided he wanted to be a high school history teacher when he was a high school student. Today, Brandon is an economics and American history teacher in Rose Hill, Kansas. He has been teaching for 19 years, during which he has been a regular attendee at BRI one-day and multi-day PD programming. He has also recommended our Constitutional Academy (BRI’s summer student program) to a number of his students. As a regular attendee at BRI programming, Brandon has seen to most of BRI’s resources first hand, but his favorite BRI resource is Documents of Freedom. He says its “primary source documents are my first go to when looking for resources in my classroom. They fit so easily into my plans and have great course content”. He appreciates that most of the material he receives from the Institute is immediately useful in his classroom. Thomas Jefferson and WWII are the two favorite parts of his curriculum. He admires Jefferson for writing the Declaration of Independence and enjoys talking about all its complexities with his students. He also notes he is very jealous of Jefferson’s library. WWII is also a favorite topic and he highly recommends the WWII museum in Kansas City to other educators.

Craig Hanzel

EducatorTeacher

Craig Hanzel has been teaching for fifteen years and has been using BRI resources in his classroom for most of that time, having attended his first BRI seminar in 2006. “BRI is my favorite professional development opportunity of the school year. I always walk away with new content knowledge, ready-to-use lessons and thorough instructional strategies that can easily be lent to my varied classes.” Relevancy is key, according to Craig, in working with high school students and finding new ways to unite them around a common goal. He is always looking for innovative strategies to bring this concept to life for his students. He not only teaches public policy, but also shows students how it plays out in the real world by taking his seniors to the county courthouse so they can job-shadow in various departments. Craig is lucky to share his passion for teaching government and U.S. history with his wife, Laura, who also teaches social studies at Atchison High. Laura and Craig often attend seminars together, and are able to share ideas for new lesson plans and teaching strategies with each other. In addition to his responsibilities as a teacher, husband, and father of four, Craig also finds time to teach karate at the local YMCA, serve as an adjunct professor at Benedictine College, and mentor new teachers in his district.

Eliot Waxman

EducatorTeacher

Eliot Waxman has had a wide variety of experiences working both as a teacher and in politics, all of which have shaped his opinions on the state of education in the U.S. “If we really want students to be lifelong learners in an ever-changing world, we need to give them authentic and rigorous opportunities. They need to be able to learn in ways that are meaningful to them,” he states. Throughout his career, Eliot has worked as a public opinion pollster, in the federal government’s community service programs, and as a teacher of a variety of high school government and history classes. Eliot’s greatest influence during his career was his principal at Oakton High School. “He set a vision for the school that challenged the status quo and had us think about what education in the 21st century should look like. He then trusted his staff to implement the vision in the way they thought was best for the students,” Eliot recalls. One of Eliot’s proudest achievements was when he helped create a student debate during the 2008 presidential election that was aired on C-SPAN. Eliot especially enjoys teaching the Campaigns & Elections unit to his government classes. “I was a political consultant before I became a teacher and I like to share my experiences with the students. I particularly like to see students engaging with their elected representatives and discussing the relevant issues of the day, especially with their parents,” Eliot says. He is very interested in helping students become “effective citizens” and ultimately views it as one of his responsibilities as a teacher.

Grace Struiksma

EducatorTeacher

Grace Struiksma realized that she wanted to be a teacher when she was a young child. “I loved school, and when I wasn’t attending school, I would line up my dolls and stuffed animals in front of my chalkboard and teach them what I learned.” Grace was one of twenty teachers who joined us for our week-long Summer Institute here in D.C. last month. She has been teaching for 24 years, and currently teaches US History, Utah Studies, History Through Cinema, and The World Through Film at Channing Hall IB World School in Draper, Utah. Her proudest achievement is receiving the KSL Radio Teacher of the Week award because the award was based on a letter written by a student who felt that Grace had made a significant difference in her own life and the lives of other students. She loves teaching about the Constitution and the Bill of Rights because it’s an opportunity to remind her students that these documents and principles are relevant to their daily lives. “Students need to know,” Grace says, “That we are ‘we the people,’ and it is our duty, honor, and privilege to serve our fellow citizens through government work or simply being an active participant in our democracy.”

Greg Yarnall

EducatorTeacher, Academy of St. Elizabeth in Convent Station, NJ

Greg Yarnall teaches at Academy of St. Elizabeth in Convent Station, NJ. He’s been teaching for 25 years and is currently teaching AP Government and Politics; AP U.S. History; World History; and Freedom, Power, and Political Crises. He attended a BRI seminar on immigration about a year and a half ago. His favorite part of that seminar was “how well the instructor was able to put our current situation in the context of overall trends in American history.” In addition, he says, “The seminar was an excellent example of just what the Bill of Rights Institute excels at which is marrying the primary sources of the past to the current issues of today (and the pressing questions of tomorrow).” His favorite time-period of history is American in the 1920s, as it is a fascinating exercise to see what has changed. Speaking of fascinating exercises, one of his favorite assignments to do with students is to hand them a photograph or an image without a caption and ask them to describe what is happening. He says it is a great way to hone their skills in document analysis. When thinking about the biggest challenge he faces as an educator, he says, “It isn’t that students don’t care. I find that many are immensely concerned with the world we live in. Yet often, students struggle to comprehend the intricacies of issues today from the cacophony of noise that emanates from today’s media.” For motivation to keep teaching, Greg points to correspondence and continued relationships with past students and to Socrates. He says, “{Socrates} wasn’t afraid to be a bit of pain to get the job done. He also knew the absolute nugget that our story is far more about the question than the answer. I think if we would just teach history as questions, instead of a list of answers, far more people would catch its appeal (and importance).”

Gregory Dykhouse

EducatorTeacher

Gregory Dykhouse, currently in his 23rd year of teaching, has always tried to find unique ways to teach his high school students. For example, in recent years of teaching a course named “Big History,” which spans the history of the universe, he has taken his freshman students to the University of Michigan to explore the various museums located there. “For most of these students, the excursion represents the opportunity to walk the grounds of a major university campus!” Greg states. Another unique material that he uses is having his students read What the Eyes Don’t See: A Story of Crisis, Resistance, and Hope in an American City, an account of the Flint water contamination. Greg finds constant inspiration from his wife and children. “They hold skills and interests in many areas that are weaknesses for me, so I am reminded that there is much yet for me to do,” he says. When he is not in the classroom, Greg participates in multiple groups that allow him to exchange ideas with other educators on how to improve high school education. Greg is very excited to work with the Bill of Rights Institute. “A reminder of basic rights within an ordered society may be particularly helpful for our younger learners and leaders today,” he states. He points to the unprecedented levels of changes that have taken place in our society over the past century as a reason why educators have such a difficult but important job. “Our young students enter a world greatly unlike that of their parents and grandparents.  Just what priorities is a high school teacher to model?” he asks. This is the driving question behind Greg’s work as an educator.

Jeanette Lozano

EducatorInstructor, AP Comparative Government and Model Organization of American States at Midland High School in Texas

Jeanette knew she wanted to teach since she was in 4th grade. “[My teacher] Mr. Melton was fun but firm and taught us that growing up responsibly was going to benefit us and our families and society as a whole,” she recalls. Jeanette now has taught for 9 years and is currently instructing AP Comparative Government and Model Organization of American States at Midland High School in Texas. Jeanette attended BRI’s Summer Institute titled “Liberties Guaranteed: The First Amendment” in 2017, which she described as “hands-down the best professional development I have ever attended.” Jeanette especially enjoyed visiting the Supreme Court, where she took a shot at the “highest court in the land” – the basketball court above the courtroom. Jeanette’s favorite historical figure is Abraham Lincoln because she admires his speaking style and his actions to preserve the nation during the Civil War. Her biggest challenge as an educator is connecting learning with the real-world. And her proudest achievement? Jeanette loves it when students stay in touch with her and tell her the impact that she had on their lives. “One young man joined the Navy and thanked me for being his teacher – I hadn’t seen or heard from him in eight years,” she says.

Jennifer Zirbel

EducatorTeacher

Jennifer Zirbel believes in accepting her students as they are and adapting her approach to meet their needs. “Our classrooms are filled with students of diverse backgrounds, needs, and interests,” says Jennifer, “So to be able to meet each individual’s needs as well as that of the whole group is my biggest challenge as an educator.” Jennifer has taught for nine years and currently teaches at Belgrade High School in Belgrade, Montana where she teaches U.S. History and AP U.S. History. One of her proudest achievements is being selected as a James Madison Foundation Fellow. She has known she wanted to be a teacher since she was in the fourth grade, and one of her biggest influences was a counselor at her former high school. “She inspired me to feel empowered as a teacher to do what is best for students and to not complain but rather change what is not working.” And her biggest inspiration from history? “I’m a big fan of George Washington. He was a strong and steadfast leader of both the military and the country,” Jennifer says. “He didn’t always have prior experience to guide him but he was practical and thoughtful. He brought in people with more experience to help him and in many ways was ahead of his time.”