Educators That Rock!

Elizabeth Devine
Tom Devine
Elizabeth Devine

Educators That Rock!: Elizabeth Devine

November 22, 2010
by findingDulcinea Staff
FindingEducation met up with Elizabeth Devine at the annual National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) conference in Atlanta, Ga., in November 2009. At the conference, Devine was named as one of the NCSS Outstanding Secondary Social Studies Teachers of the Year for 2009-2010. She also hosted a panel focused on helping teachers integrate the study of human rights into their curriculum.

Devine teaches human rights, government and AP history, and she team-teaches an American studies course with an English teacher at Hall High School in Hartford, Conn.

When we spoke with Devine over the phone in December 2009, she shared some of her own strategies for helping students take positive action in their communities and on a global scale. “When you talk about how to address the problems of the world it all comes down to one thing, and that’s education, because education is hope,” Devine said.

fE: Tell me about how you got started as a teacher, and how you began the human rights course at your school.

ED: I started teaching in 1978 in West Hartford and one of the first people who had an impact on me was a Holocaust survivor. She was a teacher at the school. We became friends, and together we started to write the Human Rights manual for the state of Connecticut.

Then, in about the late 90s, there was a specialist in the Cambodian genocide that came to speak at the school. And I just became more and more interested in the topic. I realized, at a high school level, we do teach the Holocaust, and if you’re in a world history course, you do learn about things like Stalin. But most often there’s no discussion of anything going on in Africa, and very little about Central Asia.

My colleague, Sarah Lawrence, and I approached our department head and asked, “Could we devise this course and run it, because there seems to be a gap in the curriculum?” And he said, “Yes.”

One of the focal points of the course is that the kids had to implement some kind of an action project that would help to educate other people or in some way address the issues that are being discussed.

Read the rest of the Q&A with Elizabeth Devine at findingEducation’s Digital Teachers’ Lounge.

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