Teacher honored for bringing past to life
HOLLIS — Encouraging eighth graders to take interest in the lives of their ancestors is perhaps easier said than done.
But for Laura DeRosa, its just another reason why she loves her job.
DeRosa's efforts haven't gone unnoticed.
The Manchester resident, who has been teaching social studies at Hollis Brookline Middle School for eight years, was honored Friday afternoon, when she was presented with one of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution's most prestigious awards: the state's 2014 Outstanding Teacher of American History.
According to Susan Santoski, American history chair of the Anna Keyes Powers Chapter of DAR, the award honors full-time history teachers in both private and public elementary and high schools.
Award recipients, who are nominated by students, colleagues and DAR members, are chosen based on their historical knowledge, commitment to students, patriotic spirit and ability to relate the past to the present.
DeRosa wrote an essay entry earlier this year after being nominated for the honors, though she was clearly caught by surprise to have won.
"It's the ultimate compliment," she said, noting that Santoski's children are among her previous students. "Teaching the eighth grade is always entertaining and I love how my students are so eager to please, to learn."
Encouraging her students to learn about history directly from primary sources, DeRosa recalled a recent lesson where she took her students to one of the town's historic cemeteries.
"The kids really got into it," she said.
Each student was asked to collect data and photographs to be used on a class website, she said.
"They learned that there's a story to be told in each epitaph, the shape of the stones and the materials used to make them," DeRosa said. "You can learn a lot about society and the time period by visiting an old cemetery."
DAR Chapter Regent Mary Pease commended DeRosa for her engaging teaching methods.
"She really encourages the kids," she said.
DeRosa, who was surprised with the award at the start of the school's annual volleyball tournament, was presented with flowers, a certificate and a copy of the book "Bunker Hill: A City, A Siege, A Revolution," by Nathaniel Philbrick.
DeRosa will be honored again this spring, during the NSDAR State Conference at Waterville Valley on April 26.
She'll also have a shot at national title for NSDAR Outstanding Teacher of American History.