History plays an important role in our identities. We celebrate our heritage and create connections with the regions of the world we call home. It exposes us to the varying perspectives and actions of individuals that influenced the world we live in today. History offers a critical reference guide for those in the fields of science, technology, and engineering who are shaping our future.
When my parents married they bought land from a Russian on the outer edges of an area in town known to us as Russian Village. A short walk up the hill transported me to a world occupied by White Russians. The distinction between the Reds and themselves was compulsory during my Reagan Era childhood.
My family remained close to the man they bought the land from. Throughout my childhood I visited, learning about his life in Russia and the famous people who had summered in the village. I still remember a revealing story he told about how everyone in town united when a Nazi organization had tried to establish a camp shortly before the start of WWII. They eventually used Blue Laws to arrest the organizers and ran them out of town.
What did an 11 year old me know about France to make me use my savings from delivering newspapers to pay my own way? I knew my brother was doing his junior high school year abroad there and that meant seeing Versailles, Notre Dame, the Louvre, and Arc de Triomphe. I ended up preferring the lesser churches and museums; especially Sacré Coeur Basilica, Centre Pompidou and chocolate filled croissants.
When I travel to different cities and countries I partake in the local food because it allows one of a few opportunities to understand a culture as an outsider. Food can illustrate how disparate groups influence each other in ways that would not have occurred without invasion or immigration. A local dish can also subversively declare that no matter how much the state might want assimilation, a marginalized people still thrive. The dining table is neutral territory where food conjures memories and speaks to both head and heart.
At this dinner I was told how under Mao’s Cultural Revolution there was little food, their woks were melted down for the production of metal, and that having me at their table would have meant prison or worse for all of them.
What’s in a name? I know little about my dad’s side of the family and celebrate the traditions of my mother. Bogardus Plaza in New York City was the first encounter with my surname’s history in America. From that little patch of land I discovered a family history tied to the founding of America and the structural development of its cities.
A visit to Judaculla Rock transports you to a time when America had yet to be “discovered” and the Cherokee told a story that has lost meaning through the forfeiture of history.
James Shea taught me European History and AP American History in high school. What he really taught me is that history is more than a series of events laid out in chronological order. He initiated me into the responsibilities attached to teaching it and the opportunities it provides to make us all better citizens.
Letter to a Headmaster
I'm putting this letter I wrote to a school's headmaster because I feel that it provides a clear explanation for the importance of a historical understanding of our country's government and society with zero cliches.
Dear Mr. XXXXXXX,
I am writing you under advisement of a shared acquaintance - xxxxxxxxxxx. I am currently at a
middle school teaching seventh grade English and Math. Before this year I had taught English to students
at every grade level and provided academic support in Science and Social studies. I am successful
motivating struggling students, but consider my knowledge, abilities and approach are geared toward high
Even before college I taught adults and peers within the classroom. After college I taught at a boarding
school for middle and high school students. I liked teaching both groups of kids, but my preference leaned
toward the high schoolers who were emotionally and intellectually developed enough to see the value and
long-term benefit of learning. My high school students had me for Literature and History, where I used a
holistic model to link writings with their respective historical time periods. The majority of those students
fell on the autism spectrum and as a result were concrete thinkers who gravitated towards Science and
Math. The most amazing moments were when I saw changes in their perception of the world and their
role in it.
In a world that promotes STEM, students must develop critical thinking and the ability to apply that knowledge in a manner that serves people today and in the future. This is accomplished through studies of the humanities, where you and I discovered varying perspectives and actions of individuals who shaped the world we live in today. Teaching at a boarding school (Middle College meet these requirements too!) provides the ideal environment to foster analytical thinking and proper research methodology, while serving as a model for axioms safely within
the microcosm of the campus.
My four years at boarding school gave me an education beyond the classroom; on the stage, playing field,
dining hall, the chapel and the dorms. I know what xxxxxxxxxxx with me there can offer
students. My abilities go beyond what I am currently tasked to do in the classroom. Although I have
attached my resume of teaching experience, I know it does not completely reflect my character. I would
like to meet with you at a moment of your convenience.