Swenson Award 2008
Debra Lynde, Milton High School
Debra Lynde with her Milton High School students. Photo by Emily Nelson,
Burlington Free Press
Milton High School teacher Debra Lynde has been named the 2008 humanities educator of the year. An English teacher at Milton, Lynde is the sixth recipient of VHC’s annual Victor R. Swenson Humanities Educator Award, first given out in 2003.
According to Milton Co-Principal Anne Blake, Lynde has been a leader among her peers, has a passion for lifelong learning and reading, has been a valued team member among her colleagues, is committed to literacy, and is an engaged and active teacher.
"Debra is a very deserving recipient of this award,” said Blake. “She is dedicated to excellence in her teaching and her students, and has made a tremendous difference in education in our community and our state."
VHC Board Chair Tom Giffin presented the award at VHC's fall conference, Delight and Wisdom: The Life and Poetry of Robert Frost, November 15 at Middlebury College. The ceremony included the presentation of a $1,000 check to Ms. Lynde.
“A good teacher should be a role model, and this is certainly true of Deb,” said fellow teacher Barbara Mieder in a nomination letter. Lynde has taught English at Milton High School since 2001. Prior to that she taught for nearly twenty years at Northfield High School. Her courses include Advanced Placement Literature and Advanced Placement Language.
Throughout her teaching career, Lynde has emphasized the idea of reading and discussion. She was one of the initiators of Milton’s monthly Community Book Discussions where students, faculty, and community members gather for a book discussion. Mieder notes that Lynde’s “enthusiasm for the book discussion is infectious.”
“Deb is pushing for full literacy for all Milton students,” wrote Mieder. “She encourages them to think beyond Milton and their own contemporary lives [by showing] students how books can open the doors to history, social studies, science, and other fields.”
Lynde has been a prominent figure in the area of student writing improvement, attending and leading numerous training sessions. She is actively involved with Vermont Department of Education and University of Vermont initiatives. She has developed curriculum that is now standard at Milton High. All this helped get the school noticed in 2003 when Vermont Humanities Council was looking for a community to bring into its Intensive Creating Communities of Readers literacy grant program.
Lynde received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Vermont. She earned a Masters in English from Syracuse University. Among her other awards are the University of Vermont Outstanding Teacher of the Year in 1997, the Partner in Education Award for the Vermont School-to-Work Initiative, and the Milton Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2002. She also received the Northfield Rotary Teacher of the Year in 1997.
“Deb is definitely deserving of the Victor R. Swenson Award. She is dedicated, engaged, a lifelong learner, and a role model for other educators,” wrote Mieder.
VHC created the award to recognize a Vermont educator on an annual basis and to honor Victor R. Swenson, the Council’s first executive director. The award is given to a Vermont educator in grades 6 through 12 who exemplifies excellence in the teaching of the humanities.
Nominations for the Swenson Humanities Educator Award are due June 15.
Learn more about the Victor R. Swenson Humanities Educator Award.