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Each year, graduating seniors at Waynesfield-Goshen High School are asked if any particular teacher had a positive influence on their academic career.
Most often, the name mentioned is high school history teacher Joe Foster.
Now, those voices are being heard at the state level.
On Thursday, the Gilder Lehman Institute of American History announced Foster as the 2012 Ohio History Teacher of the Year.
“It is very humbling,” Foster said. “My favorite thing about teaching is looking back at students and knowing you touched their lives. That feeling is priceless.”
To be a nominee for the award, candidates had to be nominated by a student and a staff member. Waynesfield-Goshen Schools aide Deb Johns and graduating senior Jessica Reimesch were responsible for Foster’s nomination.
A panel of teachers and administrators from throughout the state evaluated the nominees based on use of primary documents in the classroom, the level of inspiration provided to students and career achievements in education. Examples of a long-term and short-term lesson plans had to be submitted.
The short-term plan submitted for Foster was a project where students were required to use primary resources to find out information about a person of their choice from the Civil War.
The student then had to do a presentation in first person of their selection. The long-term project submitted was a fundraising foundation started at the school last year to provide funding for efforts to preserve Civil War battlefield sites.
Foster will receive $1,000 for the award and will be given a certificate of recognition. In addition, an archive of books and historical resources will be given to the school in his name to the school library. He will be honored in a ceremony to be announced at a later date.
With his selection, Foster will now be considered for the National History Teacher of the Year Award, which includes a $10,000 award.
Foster, who is in his 12th year of teaching at Waynesfield-Goshen Schools, came to the district after one year of substitute teaching in the Bowling Green area. He graduated from Union High School in southeast Ohio and from Bowling Green State University with a degree in political science. He is licensed in all social studies areas.
Foster and his wife, Carrie, live in McComb. At Waynesfield-Goshen Schools, he teaches American history, world history, government, economics and Civil War at the high school level.
Foster said he tries to enable students to get involved in their assignments so they can take ownership and responsibility of them.
“My philosophy is I have a mixture of lecture and class discussion,” Foster said. “I try to get the students involved as much as possible. I try to get the students to picture the people they are learning about rather than just remembering a name. If they can understand the type of person the individual was, then they can understand what they did and why they did it.”
Foster said the award is all-encompassing.
“This is a district-wide award,” Foster said. “I look around here and see a lot of other teachers who have been here longer that I have learned from. It is a collaborative effort.”