By Laura Gomez
Special to the Register
And the U.S. history teacher of the year award goes to Gretchen M. Gurr, Hamden native, Southern Connecticut State University alumna and U.S. history teacher at James Hillhouse High School.
Gurr was honored during History Day in Connecticut,which encourages students to explore local, state, national and world history by inviting them to explore a historical topic related to an annual theme and to submit projects for a series of contests from local to national level. This year’s theme was “revolution, reaction and reform.”
This is the first year Hillhouse students entered the competition, Gurr said. They won second place with a documentary, “WWII: African American Veterans Recollection of Segregation.” They are representing the state at the National History Day Competition this month at the University of Maryland.
To go “as far as we did the first time we entered says a lot about the ability of our students,” Gurr said. It also shows that given opportunities to succeed, students will excel, no matter what school they attend, she said.
Gurr has accompanied her students in developing their projects throughout the school year. For her, teaching is about facilitating knowledge and providing students with tools, so learning is not driven entirely by the teacher.
“What I try to generate in my classroom daily is inquiry,” Gurr said. “They do the research. I provide them the opportunities, the material, the perspective, so to speak, and they have to investigate.”