By Matthew Tungate
A strange noise filled Missy Davis’ 5th-grade mathematics classroom at James E. Farmer Elementary (Jefferson County) one day last year. At first it sounded like an airplane, but then one of the student said something was leaking. Upon further inspection, Davis found it was coming from next door. She’s heard many strange noises coming from the classroom of 5th-grade social studies teacher Christina Cornelius, with whom she has been neighbors since the school opened in 2007.
“I opened the door to find the students wearing goggles and snorkels,” Davis said. “They were diving for artifacts. The dive site had been carefully mapped out on a grid in her classroom. There was a CD playing underwater noises. The kids had a blast, and the coordinate grid reinforced what I was teaching in math – it was a win/win.”
Cornelius’ love of experiential learning helped earn her the 2013 Kentucky History Teacher of the Year award from the Kentucky Historical Society. Tim Talbott, teacher professional development coordinator with the Kentucky Historical Society, said Cornelius’ hands-on creative approach to history with her students and use of Kentucky’s historical sites as an educational tool, both in the classroom and on field trips, were impressive factors that stood out to the judges.
Thirty-three teachers (the second-highest number in the nation) were nominated for the award in Kentucky, Talbott said. Cornelius will receive a $1,000 honorarium and will be in the running to be named 2013 National History Teacher of the Year this fall. James E. Farmer Elementary School’s library will receive a core archive of history books and educational materials from the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History and HISTORY network. Cornelius also will be invited to a 2014 Gilder Lehrman Teacher Seminar, and James E. Farmer Elementary School will be named a Gilder Lehrman Affiliate School. Continue Reading