HM - Feb. 2015 - Wakefield


What NCHE Means to Me

by Laura Wakefield
Florida Virtual School 

Happy 25th anniversary to NCHE!  In 1998, I was a middle school history teacher looking for new ideas to get my students excited about history.  I received a flyer in the mail inviting me to attend the National Council for History Education’s annual conference at the Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.    Best of all, NCHE offered scholarships to attend the conference.   I wasted no time applying. The conference was amazing.  I met other teachers who shared my passion for teaching history, attended high quality sessions, heard historians talk about the latest scholarship, and made connections with representatives from museums and historical organizations which offered resources for my students.   I had been to other conferences, but NCHE’s was special. It provided the perfect combination of content and pedagogy and connected me with people and institutions passionate about history.  I returned to my classroom rejuvenated with fresh ideas and more excited than ever about teaching.

I have continued to get my annual “fix” at the NCHE conference and have even presented at the conference.  When Teaching American History (TAH) grants were funded and NCHE’s colloquium model became the standard for many TAH grants, I was privileged to be a part of many NCHE colloquia in the role of a master teacher.   That experience of working with teachers around the country and planning colloquia in concert with an education specialist and an academic historian was incredible.  I wanted all the teachers in my district to experience an NCHE colloquium and conference.  So I wrote a TAH grant and over the next six years two more TAH grants, all of which had NCHE as a partner providing colloquia and with opportunities for teachers to attend the NCHE conference.   The teachers who were part of the grants I wrote are now more than colleagues, they are dear friends, and NCHE is often where we reunite now that TAH grants are gone.   Many who participated in NCHE colloquia are now presenters at NCHE conferences and they too return to their classrooms connected and excited.  This cycle is worth celebrating.  Congratulations to NCHE and best wishes for many more years inspiring teachers!