Northeast Hamilton teacher Leslie Keehn has been named the 2012 Iowa Council for the Social Studies Teacher of the Year.
The award presentation took place on Oct. 2 at the Great Lakes Regional Social Studies Conference in Altoona.
Only in her fourth year of teaching, Keehn has already earned a number of awards and honors. In the fall of 2010 she had entered into her second year of teaching, when she was given the Helen Finken award which is presented to a new social studies teacher. In 2011, she was one of three teachers chosen from educators nationwide to receive a month-long fellowship at C-SPAN in Washington, DC. She has also attended the Bill of Rights Institute Fellowship and is not only an active leader within the Iowa Council for the Studies, she serves as the organization's print and online newsletter editor.
NEH social studies teacher Leslie Keehn, right, seen speaking to students during a classroom activity, was recently awarded the 2012 Iowa Social Studies Teacher of the Year Award.
The Iowa Social Studies Teacher of the Year is recognized with an award and a one-year membership to the National Council for the Social Studies and the Iowa Council for Social Studies. The honor also qualifies Keehn to apply for the National Council for the Social Studies Teacher of the Year award.
After receiving the state honor, Keehn was encouraged to seek the national title by one the NCSS executive members.
"I thought (that) was an honor, even just to be asked to apply," remarked Keehn.
To become a candidate for the state award, a teacher must be nominated by a colleague. In addition to the nomination, a candidate must include a resume and letter of recommendation from his or her school administration.
NEH Supt. Patrick Hocking provided the letter of recommendation after colleague Monte DeArmoun of Northwood-Kensett nominated Keehn for the honor. Northwood-Kensett has been active in several of Keehn's classroom projects that extent beyond the walls of Northeast Hamilton CSD with the help of the internet.
Northwood-Kensett and one of Keehn's high school classes are just two of the Iowa schools participating in the Bill Gates Big History Project curriculum this year.
Utilizing the internet, Keehn has developed the Geography Global Project curriculum for middle school students and Northwood-Kensett is also participating in that, along with several schools nationwide and schools in Hawaii, Canada and Scotland.
Keehn attributes her inspiration to her mother, Sara Pralle Keehn, who taught Social Studies at CAL for 16 years before becoming an administrator.
"She has always been my inspiration," said Keehn. "Her example, combined with a life-long interest in politics and history led me to teaching".
Keehn also credits others for contributing to her success in the classroom.
"I could not do what I do without the amazing people surrounding me who push me, inspire me and support me," she said. "(It is) important to recognize what a huge role everyone plays in creating an environment in which teachers feel supported and challenged to try new things."