Justin Emrich, a teacher at Olentangy Berkshire Middle School in Galena, Ohio, has been named the 2016 Ohio Preserve America History Teacher of the Year.
The national award program is co-sponsored by The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History and Preserve America. The Ohio competition is coordinated by the Ashbrook Center at Ashland University in Ashland, Ohio.
Emrich, a resident of Sunbury, Ohio, will receive a $1,000 honorarium. Berkshire Middle School’s library will also receive a core archive of history books and educational materials from the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. The award will be presented to Mr. Emrich at the business session of the Olentangy Local Schools Board of Education meeting on Tuesday, October 11, 2016 at 6:00 pm. The presentation will take place at the Olentangy Local Schools Administrative Office, 814 Shanahan Road, Lewis Center, Ohio.
Mr. Emrich, who holds a Bachelor of Science in Education and a Master of Education degree from The Ohio State University, has taught middle school social studies for 16 years. An energetic and innovative teacher, Mr. Emrich’s approach to teaching history goes beyond the textbook.
Mr. Emrich was selected by a panel of historians and educators from the State of Ohio from among a slate of nine nominees. These nominees represent some of the very best teachers of history in the state and the competition was especially keen. “This year’s slate of nominees was exceptionally impressive and selecting just one of these teachers was difficult for the panel of judges. Though Justin Emrich emerged as our 2016 selection, each nominee is an excellent teacher and an asset to their school,” said Ohio History Teacher of the Year award coordinator Christian Pascarella. “Mr. Emrich stood out among this elite peer group for his creativity, innovation, and his ability to drive students to see history as more than names and dates.”
Particularly impressive was Mr. Emrich’s ability to use students’ outside interests as a method of capturing their attention. Seizing upon the opportunity to use the hit Broadway musical and pop cultural phenomenon Hamilton as a means to bring the American founding and early republican period alive to students, Mr. Emrich developed a series of class lessons centered on the nation’s first Secretary of the Treasury. These lessons were profiled by MindShift, a project of San Francisco-based PBS affiliate KQED Public Television 9 dedicated to exploring the future of learning.
“This award gives us the chance to recognize great history teachers across the country,” said Lesley S. Herrmann, Executive Director of the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. “It puts exceptional educators front and center.”