Tricia Billes: WA State teacher named History Teacher of the Year by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History





Inside her classroom, piles of books and journals are stuffed into plastic containers and crowd tabletops and bookshelf tops. Groups of desks congeal and set into the middle of the room, topped by upended chairs, like stalagmites in this cave of learning.

One might be able to learn here, if they don’t put an eye out first.

In a sense, it is organized chaos, says Tricia Billes, Sequim Middle School seventh-grade teacher. A messy calm before the storm.

When her students enter the classroom this week, they may not know they have the state History Teacher of the Year Award winner in their midst (as named by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History). Chances are, all that’s on their minds is what chapters they may have to memorize to pass history.

But Billes didn’t get the prestigious award for nothing. She’s ready to make history come alive and to throw out the old way of interminable text memorization.

Instead of passing history, she wants students to stop and take a look around.

“I don’t want history to be reduced to dates and names,” she says. “I want them to dig deeper, get into specifics. I teach them how to write and defend a thesis … (and) look at primary sources.”

Instead of studying a dozen explorers, her students study two or three in depth and learn the impact those figures have had on the world.

It’s that kind of fervor that prompted someone — Billes doesn’t know who — to nominate her for the award last school year.

Almost reluctantly, Billes compiled a video of her teaching themes, unit plans and philosophies and sent it off to Gilder Lehrman.

“I had low expectations,” she says. “It’s incredibly nice to be recognized. Teaching is a profession where your rewards are hugs from kids. (The award) is very gratifying. I’m honored and proud.”

A lover of history, Billes wasn’t always knee-deep into history texts. A UCLA graduate, she taught computer and music classes in Los Angeles before taking a Sequim English position in 1996....

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michael antalek - 1/29/2004

analysis?

so far the white house hasn't contradicted the truth of o'neill's claims. they've tried to undermine his book by suggesting he's a disgruntled employee, getting back at his previous employer or that he didn't have access to the kinds of information he uses in his book to criticize the bush administration.

they also initiated an investigation into his possible use of classified material in the book. .

it's too bad the bush administration didn't show the same zeal for uncovering security violations in the case of joe wilson's wife when they leaked her status as a CIA operative working undercover.

and when will people stop saying that saddam hussein was involved in international terrorism? he wasn't. that's just another myth perpetrated by the bush administration to justify the invasion. they manipulated intelligence in order to present a false threat to the american people so they could have their war.

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