Published October 29, 2019

Virginia Humanities’ Encyclopedia Virginia announces the inaugural presentation of the Betsy S. Barton Teacher of the Year Award at the 53rd Annual Virginia Conference for Social Studies Educators in Williamsburg, Virginia. Named to honor a Virginia Humanities board member who passed away in March of this year, the Betsy S. Barton Teacher of the Year Award recognizes an exceptional classroom teacher whose methods and creative use of resources makes the social studies lively and engaging for students.

Barton was a passionate advocate for K–12 social studies education in Virginia’s public schools and an early supporter of Encyclopedia Virginia (EV). A history and social science specialist with the Virginia Department of Education, she shared with EV a commitment to providing Virginia teachers with authoritative, dynamic classroom resources.

“Betsy was passionate about sharing Virginia’s untold stories and relentlessly optimistic about the transformational role of social studies in K–12 education,” said Peter Hedlund, director of Encyclopedia Virginia. “She was a tireless supporter of Virginia’s public school teachers and never missed this conference. I can’t think of a better way to honor her than with this award.”

Barton’s husband, Jonathan Barton, presented the inaugural award to Kimberly Hammers, who teaches history and government at Grassfield High School in Chesapeake, Virginia. Hammers engages her students with activities that range from the physical to the technological, and prioritizes community-building in her classroom. In 2015, she led more than 700 Grassfield High School students in a lesson that set the Guinness World Record for the largest in-person civics class. In addition to receiving a Ricoh Theta V 360-degree camera and a $1,000 stipend provided by Encyclopedia Virginia, Hammers will be nominated for the National Council of Social Studies’ Outstanding Secondary Social Studies Teacher of the Year Award.

As part of the conference, Encyclopedia Virginia also hosted a public discussion between Hasan Kwame Jeffries, associate professor of history at The Ohio State University, and fourth-grade teacher Chris Mathews about teaching slavery in K–12 classrooms.

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