Michelle Valliere, GT humanities teacher at Heritage High School, believes her subject, which covers more than 10,000 years of history, literature, the arts, philosophy, the births of nations and the fall of empires, can help her students become critical thinkers and enlightened citizens of the world.
Humanities Texas agrees and Sam Moore of Humanities Texas presented Valliere with a framed award and check for $5,000 in February as a recipient of the 2016 Outstanding Teaching of the Humanities Award.
Heritage Principal Mark Mimms, who nominated Valliere, also accepted a $500 check on behalf of the school. The school may purchase instructional materials or improve humanities courses and programs with the funds.
Moore explained that she sometimes sees 700 or more nominations submitted for the Humanities Texas Outstanding Teacher Award, but only 15 teachers are recognized and given cash awards each year. Humanities Texas is affiliated with the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Joining Moore was Denise Voss of State Senator Van Taylor’s office. She joined with Moore in praise of her hard work and presented Valliere with a formal acknowledgment from Taylor’s office, recognizing her award and hard work. Voss explained that the recognition from Taylor's office is a testament to his commitment to his younger constituents and their education, as well as a salute to Valliere.
Valliere expressed her deep thanks to Moore, Voss, Mimms, and to Angela Romney, area director of secondary education for FISD. She said she has never felt as supported by an administrator as she has with Mimms. She also acknowledged the support of her co-teacher Gabe Fain and thanked Romney for the resources provided by the Curriculum and Instruction Department.
Mimms pointed out that Valliere’s co-teacher, Fain, is a past winner of this same award. He received his award when he was teaching in another school district.
“You are the only students in FISD with two award-winning humanities teachers,” Mimms told students, praising Valliere and Fain for the fantastic job they do in the classroom.
GT Humanities is a two-year secondary program for Frisco ISD students who are identified as Gifted and Talented learners. It is now in its second year and Valliere said she has been so impressed with her students, she is already wondering what it will be like when this year’s sophomores leave the program.
The students recently studied concepts that pertain to the rise of communism and fascism during the 20th century. They are reading novels, working on a book and artwork, and also studying jazz and its role in history.