Ripley native named WV History Teacher of the Year


Courtesy: West Virginia Wesleyan College

BUCKHANNON, WV (WOWK)—Ripley native, Adena Barnette, was named the 2021 West Virginia History Teacher of the year, an award given out by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, which is a non-profit “dedicated to K-12 history education while serving the American public.”

In order to be considered for this award, Barnette was first nominated by a previous recipient. She then needed to submit her curriculum vitae, a letter of recommendation from a supervisor, a lesson plan from her classroom using primary sources and student work examples. She chose to submit a lesson that involved students using excerpts from Frederick Douglass’s autobiography to write letters to the editor or abolitionist speeches.

“My students made me cry with their words,” she said. “They got to the very soul of the abolitionist arguments for the emancipation of American slaves.” 

This award gives Barnette a $1,000 honorarium, American history books and a free graduate course. The national winner will be announced in the fall of 2021.

Barnette said, “This award makes me want to even work harder in my classroom. At the end of the day, what really matters is that my students are not only learning the content but that each class period is memorable and engaging. I am a teacher because I love my students and I want to make a difference.”

Barnette majored in secondary social studies education at West Virginia Wesleyan College, and she teaches at the high school from which she, herself graduated: Ripley High School. This fall will mark her 19th year of teaching.

Regarding history and politics, Barnette said, “It is something I have always been passionate about.”

Barnette participated in three Teaching American History grants sponsored by her alma mater, and she came back to campus during the school year and over the summers between 2004 and 2014 to learn more about American history from retired professors Dr. Robert Rupp and Dr. Lynn Rupp. Barnette says the pair’s mentorship and recommendations led to her winning the James Madison Fellowship in 2011, which funded her Master’s of Arts in American History and Government from Ashland University.  

She also won the WV DAR Outstanding Teacher of American History in 2016 and placed third in the nationwide contest.

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