Today in History:

Civil War Trust, recognize outstanding entrants in fourth annual lesson plan contest

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Educators Honored for Creative Classroom Lessons

July 29/2011
Civil War Trust, History® recognize outstanding entrants in fourth annual lesson plan contest


(Washington, D.C.) – For the fourth year, the Civil War Trust, the nation’s largest nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting the hallowed ground of Civil War battlefields, and History® have teamed up to honor some of America’s most innovative and inspiring history teachers.  The Best Lesson Plan Contest offers cash prizes to teachers who use primary source materials and a healthy dose of creativity to bring 19th-century history alive in 21st-century classrooms. 


 “A great teacher can instill a life-long love of history in the lives of countless children,” said Civil War Trust president James Lighthizer.  “We are incredibly grateful that so many outstanding educators are willing to share their proven tips and techniques with us so that we can improve the overall quality of history education by spreading their success.”


Dr. Libby O'Connell, Chief Historian and SVP of Corporate Outreach for History®, concurred, saying: History® is proud to join the Civil War Trust in  honoring these inspirational educators who have created outstanding Civil War lesson plans. Their innovative lessons provide excellent models for other educators as they teach about this critical era in U.S. history.”


This year’s grand prize winner was Mr. Warner Ferratier of Central High School in Champaign, Ill.  His lesson, entitled “Remembering the Fallen,” is designed to encourage older students to examine the memorials placed on battlefields in memory of those who died in combat.  Beyond describing the themes that appear in these markers, students are also asked to compare and contrast Union and Confederate memorialization efforts.

Second place went to Mr. Paul LaRue of Washington High School in Washington Court House, Ohio, for “The Battle of Saltville.”  His lesson uses primary documents related to the October 1864 southwestern Virginia engagement, to examine the complexities of the African American Civil War experience.  Ultimately, high school students are asked to evaluate whether the fighting amounted to a battle, a massacre or somehow both.

Ms. Cheryle Hodges of Courthouse Road Elementary in Spotsylvania, Va., earned third place for her lesson “A Civil War Overview.”  This lesson offers younger students a chance to participate in a variety of activities over three class sessions to gain a solid grounding in Civil War history.
Entries are available on the Trust’s website, as part of the organization’s commitment to sharing proven classroom techniques with educators, free-of-charge.   In addition to individual lesson plans, teachers may also download the organization’s comprehensive two-week Civil War Curriculum, available at three grade levels.  For more information on Trust education initiatives, visit


The Civil War Trust is the largest nonprofit battlefield preservation organization in the United States.  Its mission is to preserve our nation’s endangered Civil War battlefields and to promote appreciation of these hallowed grounds.  To date, the Trust has preserved more than 30,000 acres of battlefield land in 20 states.  Learn more at, the home of the Civil War sesquicentennial.