June 8, 2006
Director of Communications
Public Information Officer
Fairfax County middle-school teacher Jamie Sawatzky today was named Virginia’s 2006 Preserve America History Teacher of the Year. He is a seventh-grade U.S. history teacher and department chair at Rocky Run Middle School in Chantilly. Mr. Sawatzky has been teaching for six years and is a national board certified teacher in early adolescence and social studies. Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Linda M. Wallinger presented the award during a reception at the school.
Mr. Sawatzky coordinates a school-wide Oral History Day Project. His students read about and research World War II and prepare questions prior to interviewing veterans, including D-Day and Iwo Jima participants, a Tuskegee Airman, a survivor of the Bataan Death March, a member of the Women’s Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs), and individuals on the home front. Videotaped interviews are sent to the Library of Congress for inclusion in the Veterans History Project.
“Through the Oral History Day Project, Jamie Sawatzky’s students are not only learning about a significant time in our nation’s history but are preserving firsthand accounts for future generations to view as primary sources,” said Acting Superintendent of Public Instruction Patricia I. Wright.
“Numerous comments from students and parents attest to Mr. Sawatzky’s teaching methods,” said Rocky Run Middle School Principal Dan Parris. “Under his instructional leadership, his students attained a 99 percent pass rate on the U.S. History from 1877 to the Present Standards of Learning test.”
Preserve America is a White House initiative that encourages and supports community efforts to retain America’s cultural and natural heritage. The History Teacher of the Year Award is co-sponsored by Preserve America and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History and is designed to promote, celebrate, encourage, and honor the teaching of history in America’s classrooms.
One outstanding K-12 teacher of American history in each of the 54 participating states and territories is recognized annually with a $1,000 honorarium, a certificate of recognition, and history books and materials for the schools’ library. A national Preserve America History Teacher of the Year is selected from among the state honorees. The national winner is recognized during a ceremony in early fall to mark the start of the school year. In addition, the national Preserve America History Teacher of the Year participates in a multi-city tour to promote history teaching as a national priority.
Mr. Sawatzky is the third Virginia teacher to be honored for this award. Previous winners include Mary M. Gunsalus of Landstown Middle School in Virginia Beach and Barbara W. Weaver of Thomas Eaton Middle School in Hampton.