Get to Know the 2017 History Teachers of the Year: Rebecca Berry, West Virginia, and Robert Prichard, Missouri

This year, the Gilder Lehrman Institute recognized 52 State History Teachers of the Year for their tireless and innovative efforts to make history come alive for their students.

But who are they, really? We asked these talented teachers to answer a few questions about themselves and to reflect on the challenges and joys of teaching. We will feature a state winner every Tuesday and Thursday, so keep checking back to learn more about these outstanding educators!

This week, meet Rebecca Berry and Robert Prichard!



Rebecca Berry, Morgantown High School
2017 West Virginia History Teacher of the Year

State one fun historical fact about the town you live in or grew up in.  
My hometown of Ambridge, PA is about 20 miles north of Pittsburgh and was home to the The American Bridge Company. Before closing, the American Bridge company produced steel that was used to build the Golden Gate Bridge and the Brooklyn Bridge.

What is the last great history book you read?  
Miracle at Philadelphia by Catherine Drinker Bowen.

What is your favorite historical site or museum?  
The Pennsylvania State House (Independence Hall).

If you could travel back in time and meet any historical figure who would it be and why?  
Benjamin Franklin.

Who is your favorite historian?
Miss Windisch, who was my history teacher in high school who inspired me to become a teacher.

What is your favorite historical film or series?  
Lincoln or Matewan.

Do you have a favorite historical topic or era?  
The Constitutional Era.



Robert Prichard, St. Clair High School
2017 Missouri History Teacher of the Year

Do you have a favorite/funny memory from teaching?
Early in my career, when a phone was installed in my room, my second hour, which was a very close group decided the next time someone missed class, we would call and check on them. So when Becky missed class we called her as class began. When she answered groggily we found out she had blown out her ACL in a late night away Volleyball game. None of us knew she had spent the night in the ER (pre-Social Media), and was on heavy painkillers. We felt terrible, and had a card and flowers when she returned.  No more phone calls to missing students, today Becky is my son’s Kindergarten Teacher!

State one fun historical fact about the town you live in or grew up in.
In the early 20th Century, a St. Louis Shoe Company wanted to build a factory in the area, and several towns along what was Route 66 competed for the factory. My home town put together the quickest and best bid, winning the factory site. St. Clair flourished, while the other towns are now ghost towns.

What is the last great history book you read?
Nixonland by Rick Perlstein

What is your favorite historical site or museum?
Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield.

Who is your favorite historian?
James McPherson.

What is your favorite historical film or series?
Band of Brothers.

Do you have a favorite historical topic or era?
The US Civil War.

Do your students have a favorite historical topic or era?
The Sixties.

What advice would you give to young people, in high school or college, who may be considering a career in education but are unsure? 
Teaching is a calling.  They are so very many reasons not to get into education today but if you feel that passion nothing else will satisfy.  If you are certain that is what you wish to do you should follow that path.     

If you could travel back in time and meet any historical figure who would it be and why?
Theodore Roosevelt, because he came from the privileged class,  yet took pains to move America towards a more economically equal footing in his time.