Ozark, Arkansas • Ozark High School
Jessica Culver is currently in her 16th year of teaching at Ozark High School in Ozark, Arkansas, and she is loving her job and her students. This year, she is teaching U.S. History since 1890 to 11th graders as well as concurrent college credit world history to 11th and 12th graders.
Jessica’s undergraduate degree is in history and her two graduate degrees are in the fields of history and library media, all from Arkansas Tech University. She is a Donors Choose Teacher Ambassador, a National Master Educator with Take Charge Today, and a Bessie B. Moore Award winner for excellence in economics education.
One of her proudest achievements came in the fall of 2016 when she and five students won a trip to Washington, DC, with Envision’s Chase the Race Inauguration Contest. Through this, she and her students met General Colin Powell (Jessica is pictured to the general’s left) and also heard from notable figures including Nobel Prize Winner Malala Yousafzai and her father Ziauddin Yousafzai, among others.
Jessica says her biggest challenge is teaching all of her curricula in one school year. One of the ways she overcomes this challenge is by engaging her students through a variety of media. “Depending on the day, you might find my history classroom using artwork, music, podcasts, artifacts, or listening to guest speakers.”
And her favorite unit to teach? “I absolutely love teaching about the suffrage movement. I use the teaching of the 19th Amendment to encourage students to become civically active and involved members of society who understand the fight of historical figures to provide us with the right to vote.”
Meet Tom Trosko
It’s an understatement to say that Tom Trosko is a man of many talents.
At different points in his life he was a restaurant cook, waiter, bartender, manager, insurance salesman, supervising agent, car sales, closer, finance manager, and now he teaches marketing and all social studies at an alternative school, the Lieser Campus at Fort Vancouver High School in Vancouver, Washington.
A true “Renaissance Man,” Tom holds degrees in Management and Accounting from Portland Community College (1990), a B.S. in Social Science from Warner Pacific College (1999) and a Masters in Curriculum and Development from Portland State University (2003).
His proudest moment in teaching is when he has his students read “The Law” by Bastiat. “I then ask them to tell me how much our country is off track from the Tenth Amendment and how far away we have gotten from Article one section eight.”
Tom says economic history is by far his favorite subject to teach. “Teaching the fact that the commerce clause was there to help keep commerce flowing, not to stop it.”
For Tom, teaching about our system of government is an opportunity to encourage young people who believe that “the system is rigged against them” to get involved and bring about change in their community and in their country.
Tom sums it all up in one word: “Fun!”
Meet Shannon Jones
Shannon grew up in Southern California but made her way to Austin, Texas chasing a soccer scholarship to UT Austin and a degree in history. Fast forward many years and Shannon happily resides in Austin with her husband and two daughters. When she isn’t teaching U.S. History to middle school students or
driving her family crazy by talking about history, Shannon enjoys running, hiking, and spending her time
She notes that her proudest achievement as an educator was receiving the James Madison Memorial Fellowship and “walking into the classroom every day with the same joy and excitement as I did that very first day I walked into the classroom 17 years ago.”
When asked about her influences, Shannon said she was inspired to teach by her aunt Barbara Alexander, and her high school Spanish teacher Rosie Geck. “Both women not only dedicated their lives to the profession of teaching but did so with a passion for their subject matter and compassion for their students.”
Shannon says he favorite unit to teach is the 19th Century Reform Movements. “Students can have a difficult time connecting to the past, but I find their interest level and ability to connect past to present happens organically with the Reform Movements.”
“When my students leave my classroom I want them to know and understand three things: the way their government (local, state, and national) is set up, their natural rights which are supposed to be protected by the government, and how to work within and outside the system to make change if those rights are not secured. The 19th Century Reform Era serves as an ideal example of people choosing to make a difference for those whose rights were not secure.”
Meet Victor Harris
“I think we have lost the art of civil political discourse in our society,” says Victor Harris who is starting his 30th year of teaching. “Part of our job (as teachers) is to show students who sometimes only want to see things one way that there are many different perspectives and gray areas on a variety of issues.”
Victor teaches Social Studies, U.S. History, and World History at Sycamore Junior High School in Cincinnati, Ohio where he is also the Social Studies Supervisor/Department Chair.
He attended Miami University in Oxford, Ohio and received both his undergrad and master’s degrees from Miami. In addition to his teaching responsibilities, he coaches baseball, basketball, and football at the junior high and high school. Victor lives in Symmes Township, a suburb of Cincinnati, with his wife Meghan and their two children.
Victor uses many Bill of Rights Institute resources in his classroom and has also attended several of BRI’s seminars.
“I think that by educating teachers and students about the Bill of Rights and the Constitution, we continue the process of developing the educated citizenry that the founding fathers envisioned. All citizens need to be aware of their rights in order to make sure they are practiced and protected by the government.”
Meet Kathy Saar
Wichita, Kansas • Founders Fellowship 2015
A.A. Northeastern Oklahoma A&M
B.A. Oklahoma State University
M.A.T. Emporia State University
Participated in TEN Constitutional Seminars
My biggest achievement as a teacher is seeing my students go on and be successful citizens once they leave my classroom and high school. I have taught for almost 30 years in my current school and see many of my former students on a daily basis. I believe there are currently 10 working in my building this year. When I hear back from students how something I taught them years ago still makes sense to them today I am reminded of the many blessing I have in my life because of “my” students. This spring I’ll have one of my former students as my student teacher. The feeling of making a difference never gets old. I have this quote taped above my desk and read it daily (some days more than others):
“A hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove…but the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child.”
I want to say thank you to BRI for all they do for teachers. Without your support, my students would be less educated about the founding principles and core values. It is a pleasure to work with BRI and I shudder to think what my teaching might look like without the insight I’ve gotten from the BRI over the years. I am constantly encouraging other teachers to get involved with the BRI and always enjoy seeing my colleagues at BRI activities.