Bronxville High School teachers Kris Hart, Dana Landesman and Christina Reidel have been awarded Certificates of Excellence by National History Day, a non-profit education organization. They were recognized for their outstanding instruction in historical inquiry, persistence during an unprecedented school year and dedication to their students exploring this year’s topic.
Hart, Landesman and Reidel have been leading ninth and 10th graders in conducting extensive, original research on historical topics of interest, focused on this year’s theme of “Communication in History: The Key to Understanding.” Through the program, students display their work in one of five ways — paper, website, documentary, performance or exhibit — and compete against students from across the country.
“We love this program and seeing what it has done for our students,” Landesman said. “This work connects to much that we value – strong research skills, authentic student voice and an opportunity to advance diversity and equity in education through student choice. Independent thinking develops in spaces where students' ideas are listened to, respected and given structure.”
While the pandemic has provided challenges and opportunities, the teachers and students have remained committed to their historical research. Throughout the school year, students met virtually for meetings outside of the classroom, relied on digitized collections for research and conducted virtual interviews with experts on their topics.
“History is present in all that we do and all that we are,” Reidel said. “Understanding history allows us to make more sense of the world we are living in. Given the challenges of the past year, this seems more crucial than ever.”
In addition, the teachers have been committed to their own professional development by taking related graduate courses, presenting at professional conferences and working with other teachers from across the state.
“An on-going and critical self-reflection of our classroom practice and continued professional development has allowed us to foster an environment that reflects the principles in the Bronxville Promise,” Hart said.
Principal Ann Meyer said she is thrilled that Hart, Landesman and Reidel were recognized for their outstanding work with students.
“They have been dedicated to fostering historical thinking skills and engaging students in topics they are passionate about and committed to exploring,” Meyer said. “Teaching in a pandemic has been challenging to say the least and to see the outstanding accomplishments of our students is a testament to the unwavering support these teachers have given in the midst of difficult circumstances.”
Now in its sixth year, the National History Day program was introduced to Bronxville by Landesman and Reidel after they attended the National Council for Social Studies Conference. Since then, an increasing number of students have won awards in the regional, state and national competitions. Special thanks to the Bronxville School Foundation for funding the teachers’ attendance and continuing to support students by providing them with the opportunity to work with performance coaching experts to enhance their presentation skills.