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North Hills Educator Named National History Teacher of the Year
Joe WelchNorth Hills Middle School educator Joe Welch has been selected as the 2018 National History Teacher of the Year by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.

Welch, who is the youngest winner to date, will be honored at a ceremony at the Yale Club in New York City on Oct. 10. Edward L. Ayers, Tucker-Boatwright Professor of Humanities and President Emeritus at the University of Richmond will present him with the award and a $10,000 prize.

“There are many facets of my teaching that I would like to continue to improve and partnerships I would like to explore, and the application process for this award has been both self-reflective and inspirational,” said Welch. “My goal is to continue to innovate in my classroom and to be a leader and advocate for social studies and history education, both in my state and nationwide.”

Welch, a Grade 8 social studies teacher, was chosen by a panel of teachers, administrators and scholars from across the nation for his achievements in American history education. The award is presented annually by the institute, which is the nation’s leading organization dedicated to K-12 American history education. Welch was named Pennsylvania History Teacher of the Year by the organization this summer and announced as a Top 10 national finalist in August.

Inaugurated in 2004, the History Teacher of the Year Award highlights the crucial importance of history education by honoring exceptional American history teachers from elementary school through high school. The award honors one K-12 teacher from each state, the District of Columbia, Department of Defense schools and U.S. territories.

“Joe Welch is an advocate for each and every student, working to find multiple strategies to reach out, engage, and challenge them at their level while creating the best educational learning environment possible,” said David Lieberman, principal of North Hills Middle School. “I have learned to rely on Mr. Welch as an integral educational leader, a person who is passionate about student learning, and a National Board Social Studies teacher who takes on responsibilities outside of the classroom. 

In his classroom, Welch is known for creative and innovative projects that bring American history alive for his students.  His philosophy for teaching history, which was included in the application process, is based on students creating stories and publishing content. His students have the opportunity to create animated videos, remix songs to analyze an era of American history, create illustrated children’s books to explain primary sources, intertwine augmented reality to create gallery walks of presidential administrations, all while integrating the resources afforded by North Hills’ Project Connect 1:1 iPad initiative.  

Welch’s students were recognized in 2017 for their Building Bridges: Oral History to Connect Communities and Generations project. Welch, along with middle school English teacher Vicki Truchan, oversaw the student publishing of four volumes of community oral history narratives and student analysis that are now available for free on iBooks. This project was recognized with the Association for Middle Level Education National Community Engagement Award in 2017.  Recently, Mr. Welch has been instrumental in launching the National History Day program at North Hills. In conjunction with fellow social studies teacher Larry Dorenkamp, he hosted a community Vietnam War event in cooperation with WQED and PBS, sparking student interest in POW research and a special screening of Ken Burns’ documentary “The Vietnam War.” 

In addition to this honor, Welch is an Apple Distinguished Educator (ADE) and lead PBS Digital Innovator for Pennsylvania. As an ADE, he is part of a global community of education leaders recognized their work with Apple technology in and out of the classroom, who advise Apple on integrating technology as well as serving as content creators for Apple. He also was one of 16 local teachers honored with a Leaders in the Classroom award and grant from Chevron last school year.

Welch is a recognized presenter who has shared his expertise and knowledge with other educators at various state and national education events. He has presented at the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conference on multiple occasions, the National Council for the Social Studies annual conference and the Association for Middle Level Education national conference in addition to state conferences including the AIU’s Social Studies Symposium and Pennsylvania Educational Technology Expo and Conference.


About the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History

Founded in 1994 by philanthropists Richard Gilder and Lewis E. Lehrman, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History is the nation’s leading organization dedicated to K-12 American history education. The Institute’s mission is to promote the knowledge and understanding of American history through educational programs and resources. Drawing on the 65,000 documents in the Gilder Lehrman Collection and an extensive network of eminent historians, the Institute provides teachers, students, and the general public with direct access to unique primary source materials. The Institute’s programs have been recognized by awards from the White House, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Organization of American Historians.

Posted Thursday, September 20, 2018
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