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Middle school teacher named national master teacher, working with Library of Congress

Head shot of Melissa Lawson Folsom Middle School teacher, Melissa Lawson has just been named a master teacher for the Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources (TPS) Consortium by National History Day (NHD). One of only ten in the nation to hold this position! She and her cohorts will work directly with the Library of Congress and NHD staff to create a study guide with classroom resources, so students and teachers can have better access to the largest library in the world. According to Lawson "the goal of this endeavor is to help teachers everywhere feel empowered to incorporate the many treasures within the primary sources holdings in the Library of Congress."

For the last 21 years, Lawson has been a NHD leader for FCUSD and the region, and has coached hundreds of students through the process of competing at NHD. According to Lawson, "NHD is project-based learning at its finest. It challenges all students to learn beyond what the standards require." She's coached students "who didn't think they could write 500 or 700 words and come out the other side knowing how to organize their written work, conduct meaningful research, cite sources, and learn that history is more than old dead guys." The value students get out of NHD goes beyond the competition. Some say it has helped them prepare for college, while for others, it helped create personal connection and relevance with the past. Lawson reminisced about one student's project, which "told the story of her great-grandpa whose plane was shot down over Australia in WWII and lived to tell about it."

This year's NHD theme is Breaking Barriers in History and many of our students are hard at work preparing now. Their first step will be to present their projects at the Sacramento History Day, coming up on March 7. Qualifiers will advance to the California State History Day competition, with hopes of competing nationally. 


-Angela Griffin Ankhelyi, APR, Community Engagement Specialist,