KINGMAN - When it comes to history, all Ron Bahre wants his students to know is the truth.
Bahre, a history teacher for five of his eight years at Kingman Middle School, is dedicated to showing students that what they read about past events may not be the real story. In fact, said Bahre, it may be a flat-out lie, and his goal is to encourage them to dig deeper and find out what really happened.
The National History Day program, which Bahre has voluntarily run locally for three years, has noticed his dedication and recently named him Arizona's Patricia Behring Teacher of the Year. He joins 92 junior high and high school teachers across the U.S. and in several other countries chosen for their creativity, commitment and inspiration in developing student interest in history.
"Students always get the politically correct version of history and never see the real thing," said Bahre. "They get someone else's rendition. I teach about what history really is and not other people's perceptions of it. I want students to understand that there's more to history than what they read in a textbook. Real history is messy, and you have to tell the good with the bad."
Because of his passion for history, which he hasn't taught for three years at KMS because he was asked to fill in as the school's technology instructor, Bahre organized the first local National History Day fair three years ago. He was quickly appointed as its coordinator by the Kingman Unified School District, and each year, his students have won local, regional, state and national competitions under his tutelage.
National History Day is a nonprofit education organization based in College Park, Md., that offers year-long academic programs engaging more than 500,000 students around the world in creating research-based projects on historical topics. Students compete at various levels as they attempt to advance to the national level at the University of Maryland.
"National History Day firmly believes that quality teachers are the best educational tools that students have, said NHD Executive Director Cathy Gorn. "The history teachers selected as Behring award recipients are a credit to their discipline and exemplify what it takes to truly be a quality educator."
Last year, instead of taking students to the regional competition in Flagstaff, Bahre created his own in Kingman, inviting students from Lake Havasu City to Prescott. This year, he expanded the local program, including students from Kingman and White Cliffs middle schools, Black Mountain School, Kingman and Lee Williams high schools and Kingman Academy of Learning middle and high schools.
Also, students from all the fifth-grade classes at the district's elementary schools could compete at the regional level for the first time this year, although they weren't eligible for the state competition. Two of Bahre's students from KMS - Olivia Diaz and Avery Moon - took the top state honor and placed 10th in the nation and world at the national level last year and this year.
Bahre said 13 local students with six projects participated in National History Day the first year, and two of those students with one project attended the national competition. The second year, 25 students with 11 projects participated, and four students with two projects competed nationally. Bahre said there were 125 students and 65 projects this year, and two students with one project went on to nationals.
"Our district has state recognition because of what we're doing in National History Day, and we're getting known nationally because of it," said Bahre. "That makes me feel great, and I couldn't be prouder of the kids because they're doing what they should be doing. This shows the naysayers that we can compete throughout the nation and world, and it gives validity to what we're teaching in Kingman."
Ron Bahre has done an amazing job developing and growing this program locally. Kingman students are on the map with the program nationally because of Mr. Bahre's dedication and leadership, and KUSD is most fortunate to have him.
Posted: Sunday, July 13, 2014
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Congratulations to Mr. Bahre and all the students who have competed in this terrific program. I am so excited to know that this caliber of teaching is going on in Kingman.
I have worked with K-1 students and have several teachers in my family. They range from middle school science teacher, to high school history and vice principal, so I know how important it is to encourage kids to want to attend school and use their minds. This program definitely sounds like it can help accomplish that goal.