VDOE Torch

News Release Logo

For Immediate Release
June 15, 2005
Contact: Charles Pyle
Director of Communications
(804) 371-2420
Julie Grimes
Public Information Officer
(804) 225-2775

Virginia Beach History Teacher Earns
Preserve America Award

Virginia Beach middle-school teacher Mary M. Gunsalus today was named Virginia’s 2005 Preserve America History Teacher of the Year. Ms. Gunsalus is a seventh-grade United States history teacher and social science facilitator at Landstown Middle School in Virginia Beach. She has been teaching for 27 years. Superintendent of Public Instruction Jo Lynne DeMary presented the award this morning during a reception at the school.

“An understanding of history is essential to active citizenship,” said Dr. DeMary. “Mary Gunsalus has prepared generations of students to become active and thoughtful citizens.” Ms. Gunsalus will receive a $1,000 honorarium, a certificate of recognition, and a donation in her honor of history books and materials to the Landstown Middle School library. Ms. Gunsalus is now the commonwealth’s nominee for the national Preserve America teaching award.

“Ms. Gunsalus is an exceptionally talented and versatile educator who consistently achieves superior results while working with students,” said Landstown Middle School Principal Timothy R. Albert. “She is always researching and finding new ways to help students understand how history shapes who we are today.” More than ninety percent of Ms. Gunsalus’s students last year passed the United States History: 1877 to the Present Standards of Learning test, with nearly 30 percent of her students scoring at the advanced level.

Preserve America is a White House initiative that encourages greater shared knowledge about the nation’s past and increased local participation in preserving the country’s cultural and natural heritage assets. The award for history and social science teachers, which was established last year, 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. A national Preserve America History Teacher of the Year is selected from among the state and territory 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.

Barbara W. Weaver of Thomas Eaton Middle School in Hampton was Virginia’s 2004 honoree. Kathleen Cochrane Kean of Wisconsin was the national Preserve America History Teacher for 2004.