Source: Sherman Publications

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GMS student, teacher tops in history

by Susan Bromley

April 27, 2011

Krista Bethke teaches History at Goodrich Middle School. She was recently named National Outstanding History Teacher for 2011 by the National Society Daughters of Colonial Wars. Photo by Patrick McAbee.
"Patriot. That was a word that never used to mean anything to me. I followed the British expectations, and did everything a silversmith should. That was until the word tyranny came into my life. The British King was intolerable. In those long, worried, taxed-out years, my wife and children were the only things that held me together. It was during these times that I was introduced to the word patriot, and became one. Patriotism now meant the world to me. Everything was about opposing the British, and standing up for our rights as colonists."

So begins Hannah England's essay that won her first place in the state at the eighth grade level in the Daughters of the American Revolution's annual essay contest.

This year's theme was "Memoirs of Paul Revere" and with this win, England will progress to the regional contest. With a win at that level, she would advance to national competition.

"I'd never entered the contest before, this was my first year," said England, a Goodrich Middle School student. "It was very surprising, but very exciting. I did not expect this at all."

England's essay was from American Revolutionary War Patriot Paul Revere's point of view, including his famed Midnight Ride. She wrote about his life and said it was fun and she learned a lot while doing the assignment in teacher Krista Bethke's class.

"I didn't know much about him to start off with, so everything was new to me," England said. "Most interesting was that he had 16 children, eight from each wife, his first wife died. I learned he was a silversmith and he retired from the war because he was blamed for the failure of the Penobscot Expedition."

Ruth Rice, chair of the Genesee Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, said she knew England's essay was special.

"Her information flowed and it was interesting to read," she said. "History can be dry. I've been doing this (choosing essays for state competition) for five years, and I have a sixth sense about it. I know when I read a winner and hers was a winner."

While she received a certificate and a cash prize of $200 for her winning essay, England wasn't the only winner. Bethke just learned that she has been named National Society Daughters of Colonial Wars' National Outstanding History Teacher for 2011.

"I am completely honored," said Bethke. "Winning this award makes me proud to represent Goodrich and put us on the map."

She uses a program called "History Alive" to teach American history to her students. Curriculum includes the Revolutionary War, as well as the War of 1812, westward expansion, Civil War, and reconstruction through imperialism.

"My favorite part of teaching history is making it come alive for students, putting them back in that time period so they can understand what life was like for Americans back then," Bethke said.

Rice nominated Bethke for the award.

"Krista is a very well-qualified teacher," she said. "She interacts very well with her students and you know that they respect her. She is very well versed in American history, very patriotic and she brings it to life for the students."