Greene County teacher nominated for national award

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STANARDSVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- Stephanie Hammer is a history teacher at William Monroe Middle School and her passion for teaching is being recognized.

Hammer has been involved with the National History Day, or NHD, Program at the school for several years.

In the program, students work on a year-long project and then compete against other schools with the goal of making it to the national competition.

Hammer is one of the teachers who oversees the program on her own time.

"My role is to teach them how to do research and teach them how to understand history and it's not just facts and dates," Hammer said.

Because of her work, Hammer has been nominated by the Virginia Historical Society for the Harris History Teacher Award.

The award is for teachers who engage students with active learning strategies and show a dedication to teaching. It is given to one middle and high school teacher at the national competition each year.

William Monroe Middle School Principal Eileen Oliver-Eggert said Hammer deserves the nomination.

"She is an outstanding teacher in the classroom and what she does with the NHD students is amazing. I couldn't think of a better candidate to be nominated for this award," Oliver-Eggert said.

Hammer loves to see the creative work that her students do. She even has several who placed highly in the district and state competitions, which means they will go to the national competition.

"It makes me feel great because they feel so confident and great about what they do," said Hammer.

Oliver-Eggert said Hammer goes above and beyond just teaching in the classroom.

"One of the greatest strengths that Ms. Hammer has as a history teacher is the fact that she is able to inspire students' enjoyment of history," Oliver-Eggert said, "Students love being in her classroom and the students that are involved in NHD really feel empowered."

Hammer's students agree.

"She really believed in our group. She knew that we were going to make it to nationals," said, Hannah Critzer, a sixth grade student who is part of NHD.

Hammer said seeing her students succeed has also helped her as a teacher.

"It makes my job worth it because students struggle," Hammer said. "Even with the students that don't do the project, the way I do the project has transitioned into the way that I teach other students in the classroom, so it's helped me to become a better teacher."

The two winners of the Harris History Teacher Award will be announced on June 14. Each will receive a $5,000 prize.

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