For high school teacher Amy King, ’99, being named the Gilder Lehrman North Carolina History Teacher of the Year, as well as being a national finalist for the award, has been a humbling honor.
“It’s given validity to the outside-of-the-box teaching I do in my classroom,” she said.
King is committed to providing hands-on learning for her students to engage in history rather than just memorizing the lessons. Some of her most successful lessons include educational treasure hunts, station rotation, and blended learning.
This unique approach is called “flipped learning,” something King learned about during her time as an instructor at Meredith, when she exchanged the high school classroom for a college classroom for a few years.
Flipped learning is a pedagogical approach in which students are introduced to the learning material before class, with classroom time then being used to deepen understanding through discussion and problem-solving activities. “My desire is for my students to grow as leaders, public speakers, collaborators, problem-solvers, and critical thinkers through my hands-on approach,” she said.
In addition to providing interactive learning experiences, King also enjoys teaching pieces of history that highlight the importance of racial minority groups and women; she calls it “shining a light and giving voice to the voiceless in American history.” Some of her favorite pieces to teach are Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Letter from Birmingham Jail and Sojourner Truth’s rendition of Ain’t I A Woman?.
Her inspiration to become a teacher stems from her father’s 45-year-long career in the field and the way he would light up when his students were around. As to why she chose high school history, all the credit for that goes to her mentors and professors at Meredith College. “They were quite literally the best at their profession and I wanted to be as passionate as they were,” said Amy.
While teaching high school comes with many challenges, what King likes most about her job is how much time she gets to spend with her students. “They are the best people around,” she said. “They are real, honest, hopeful, and inspiring. They love to learn.”
As North Carolina’s History Teacher of the Year, King’s advice to other teachers is simple: focus on the students. “Do not allow paperwork, meetings, and non-instructional duties to deter you,” she said. “Always have in mind what is best for students, what would engage them, what would excite them in the classroom, and then focus on those things.”