(Oak Ridge Today) Jane Sasser, English teacher at Oak Ridge High School, and Brian Smith, history teacher at Jefferson Middle School, were two out of only six recipients from the entire state who received the Outstanding Educator Awards from Humanities Tennessee.
According to the Humanities Tennessee website, these awards were available for up to six full-time, third- to 12th-grade teachers in Tennessee who have demonstrated excellence in teaching the humanities. Since 1985, Humanities Tennessee has awarded almost $400,000 to 169 teachers in Tennessee.
Applicants for this award are expected to be skillful and dedicated teachers who exhibit expansive and in-depth knowledge of the subjects they teach, a press release said. They are to have the respect of students, parents, and co-workers, and have a record of active involvement in community activities and professional organizations, particularly those that promote the humanities.
Sasser and Smith will each receive a $2,000 fellowship to further their professional development in the humanities. Oak Ridge High School and Jefferson Middle School will each receive a $1,500 grant to be used for the purchase of humanities instructional materials or for student humanities projects.
Sasser will be using her funds to supplement a trip to England to visit Bronte County (Wuthering Heights), the Globe Theatre (Shakespeare), and the Lake Country (central to English Romantic poetry).
The English department at ORHS will also receive supplemental novels through the funding. Sasser has been longing for a new novel for her College Preparatory Senior English students for years, and receiving these funds will allow her to experiment with teaching a P.G. Wodehouse novel, the press release said. She hopes the funds will also cover some novels for College Preparatory Junior English.
Smith has indicated that this fellowship is allowing him to attend professional development workshops provided at the Mariners’ Museum. Each of the day-long sessions provided will focus on essential background and activities that teachers can take back to the classroom and are designed to provide teachers with new insights into creating more engaging and stimulating lesson plans for their students. The combination of attending these workshops and having the flexibility to explore Jamestown and Williamsburg will allow him to scaffold several seventh-grade world history and geography standards.
Jefferson Middle School will also receive funds to support the curriculum by adding to the JMS library catalog. Library funds have been cut, and nonfiction has been hit the hardest, including social studies resources. Due to the change in social studies standards (overlaying recent world history with its corresponding geography), books that address the seventh grade curriculum are needed. The school librarian and Smith have determined resources that will best fill this void, the press release said. Where available, they have actively sought e-books with multi-user access. With the Access Oak Ridge 1:1 device initiative, the school will never have to worry about lost or damaged books, the release said.