Thursday, November 8, 2007

Cool teachers you should know: Katie Hillstrom, Winchester High School

Katie Hillstrom is a 7th year English teacher at Winchester High School in Winchester, Massachusetts. According to her nominator, she is well-known in her school for her infectious energy that touches everything she does, whether it is teaching a unit about Walden (Her lesson plans on Walden are available here and have some fun ideas and activities) or engaging her students in service-learning projects.

Of particular note is an exchange Ms. Hillstrom organized between Winchester High School (a suburb of Boston) and Boston's English High School. Through this project, two ninth grade honors English classes at Winchester High School (WHS) collaborated with two classes at English High School (EHS) in an exchange designed to dispel stereotypes, build relationships across the socio-economic divide, explore urban/suburban educational equity, and brainstorm action steps to address these issues.

Students from WHS received “e-mail pals” from the EHS classes, so they were emailing each other and getting to know each other before the Exchange even occurred. Then, students from WHS spent one day at EHS, participating in relationship-building activities, touring the school, and listening to EHS students discuss the day-to-day challenges of attending an urban school. The project was designed to help the students involved by exposing them to a world outside their two very different communities. Here is the Massachusetts Department of Education's description of her project, from which I've quoted liberally.

How did this project affect students? Here is an excerpt from one of her student's evaluations of the project:

“True or false: Every child under age 16 in the United States receives education of an equal quality, regardless of race or wealth. Last year, I would have answered “true” to that statement. However, in March, my English class took an eye-opening field trip to English High School in Boston. There, we learned firsthand about the inconsistency in the quality of education between schools just ten miles apart from each other.”

Keep up the good work, Ms. Hillstrom!

You can nominate a cool teacher for this series by emailing me at eduwonkette (at) gmail (dot) com.

1 comment:

SeamusHeaneyFan said...

7th grade? The Hill is switching it up. This is a VERY cool teacher.