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Brandon Westlake receives prestigious national scholarship

Posted on Wednesday, April 22, 2015 at 12:51 pm

Brandon Westlake

Brandon Westlake

Community R-VI teacher Brandon Westlake has been selected as one of 25 teachers nationwide to receive a prestigious scholarship to the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.
The scholarship gives Westlake the opportunity to study U.S. History in Dallas, Texas from July 19-25 at the George W. Bush Presidential Library on the Southern Methodist University campus.
The course is called “America  after the Cold War.”
“I am really looking forward to working and learning with some great historians and teachers,” Westlake said. “Thanks to social media, I’ve already made some contacts with other teachers who will be attending. It’s always good to make new connections in the field. I’m also looking forward to seeing the George W. Bush library, as I’ll be staying at Southern Methodist University.  Visiting all of the presidential libraries is one of the nerdier things on my bucket list, and it’ll be really exciting to do it in this capacity.”
Westlake said the application process was competitive with a little more than 20 spots available for the summer class.
He submitted his application in February, which included his resume and an essay on how he would incorporate the research into my classroom and why I think it is relevant to my students, along with examples of my personal teaching strategies.
“The time period I will be studying is recent history, since the end of the Cold War,” Westlake said. “I always view this a ‘fuzzy time period’ in history; it’s something that in crammed high school schedules, many teachers don’t get to teach. Also, students sometimes have heard the names or of the events, but they don’t understand their relevance. I feel it’s important to talk about this time period, though, if we want to understand our country’s current issues. It is also a period of time that I will be incorporating into my government class.”
Westlake said he looks forward to the opportunity to bring back his experience to his classroom.
“This is a great opportunity for me to learn, but I think in the end, it’s going to be a great opportunity for our students,” Westlake said.
“My top sincere goal for all of my students is that they leave as ‘life-long learners’ who are curious about the world around them. This is a great example to bring back and show that our learning never really ends and, in the end, it isn’t about the grade in the grade book that matters.  After telling one class, a student responded ‘That’s awesome; so you’re going to be telling us some pretty cool things next year, huh?’ That’s what this really is about.”