Friday, September 25, 2020

Breathing Life into History

Steven Smith, commander of VFW Post 7721 in Naples, and Mary Ellen Cash, scholarship chairman for the post’s ladies auxiliary, flank MIA history teacher Lori Galiana.

Steven Smith, commander of VFW Post 7721 in Naples, and Mary Ellen Cash, scholarship chairman for the post’s ladies auxiliary, flank MIA history teacher Lori Galiana.

By Don Manley

Lori Galiana’s approach in the classroom at Marco Island Academy (MIA) has led to her being recognized by district 13 of Florida’s Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) organization.

As her world history class looked on, the history instructor recently received the district’s Teacher of the Year award from Steven Smith, commander of VFW Post 7721 in Naples, and Mary Ellen Cash, scholarship chairman for the post’s ladies auxiliary.

Cash said Galiana was selected for the award, which encompasses Collier, Lee and Hendry counties, because of her focus on bringing the study of history alive for her students.

“She had a nationally renowned constitutional lawyer, KrisAnne Hall, come in and speak,” said Cash, a retired educator in the Collier County school district. “That put it over the top for me. Of all the teachers that we saw, she’s the only one who took it to that level. She actually brings history to life. She makes it real. Instead of teaching history for history’s sake, she has them live it.”

Cash cited the project the world history class was engrossed in on the day of the award presentation. It involved preparing a story board showing how an historical event, such as the Cuban Revolution, was making its presence felt in today’s current events.

“It’s very important to her that the students get it,”

History teacher Lori Galiana, with flowers, is joined by her  world history class at Marco Island Academy. PHOTOS BY DON MANLEY

History teacher Lori Galiana, with flowers, is joined by her world history class at Marco Island Academy. PHOTOS BY DON MANLEY

she added.

The VFW’s annual national Smart/Maher VFW National Citizenship Education Teacher Award contest recognizes three exceptional teachers for demonstrating an outstanding commitment to teaching Americanism and patriotism to students. Each year, elementary, junior high and high school teachers, whose curriculum focuses on citizenship education topics for at least half of the school day, can be nominated.

Cash said Galiana was nominated by the Southwest Florida Citizens Alliance, and then Post 7721 selected her as its representative at the district level, where she was also chosen as the top teacher. Another teacher won the state competition and has now moved on to the national contest.

Galiana, who is also MIA’s girls’ varsity cheerleading coach, was thrilled to be recognized for her professional efforts.

“I am very honored to win it,” she said. “There are a lot of very great social studies teachers that I’ve worked with, amazing teachers, at several different schools. I believe it is very important because we must educate students about current events, and tie history into those events, to help them understand what’s going on in the world. My biggest thing is, I want them to walk out of here appreciating understanding history, and appreciating understanding the news, and what’s happened in the places that are in the news, and how events that happened many years ago affect what’s hap

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