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Swenson 2011

Last Updated 10/13/2011 2:43:32 PM

Swenson Award 2011

Steve Barrows, U-32 High School

The Vermont Humanities Council has named U-32 High School teacher Steve Barrows as its 2011 humanities educator of the year. Barrows, who teaches literature, journalism, and film classes at U-32, will be presented the ninth annual Victor R. Swenson Humanities Educator Award at VHC's annual fall conference on November 12 at the Stoweflake Mountain Resort in Stowe. The conference topic this year is "The Power of the
Humanities: Why They Matter."
VHC Board Chair James Wilbur will present the award at 8:30 a.m. in the Pinnacle Room, along with a $1,000 check to Barrows.

"We are pleased to honor one teacher in the humanities who has made an especial difference to his or her students and school, and in the process, to honor all the fine teachers in the profession and the important work they do," said Peter Gilbert, VHC executive director.

Barrows has taught at U-32 for more than thirty years. In that time he has chaired the English department, served as advisor to the school newspaper, co-directed the school theater, and developed a filmmaking unit and many elective courses highly sought by students.

"Steve is a strong leader in the school community whose advice and counsel is sought and respected by all. This is a well deserved honor," said U-32's principal Keith Garrett.

In a nomination letter, former U-32 teacher Joanne Greenberg said, "Steve blends expertise, compassion, and humor to engage his students and promotes probing intellectual discussion, creativity and excellence. He can take a class like Advanced Expository Writing, which many students enter with dread, and have them leave at year's end not only as gifted writers but also as lovers of the craft."

Greenberg, who worked with Barrows from 1977 until her retirement from U-32 last year, also noted Barrows' passion for teaching journalism and for serving as advisor to the school newspaper, The U-32 Chronicle. "[Students] have been taught how to apply their newly learned journalistic skills responsibly, and the award-winning newspaper is rightly seen as an asset to the whole community."

Two popular and unique courses Barrows teaches are Future Literature, which explores the dystopian and utopian visions of both classical and contemporary writers, and Film as Literature, which provides students hands-on experience in filmmaking to tell compelling stories. Barrows' own film documentary, Admit One to Adulthood, about U-32's program for students with disabilities, was seen at the Green Mountain Film Festival and around the country to promote self-advocacy education.

"Steve has infused tremendous creativity into U-32's community," said Amy Herrick, a fellow teacher of Barrows for ten years, in her letter of nomination. "Steve is a rare teacher. He is strict and demanding, yet affords great freedom and creativity to his students' exploration of literature and the arts. . . . The U-32 community has benefited for decades."

VHC created the Swenson award in 2003 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.

Learn more about the Victor R. Swenson Humanities Educator Award.

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