About the Vermont Humanities CouncilBecause Ideas Matter
“Students learn more when they are engaged”
Morgan Moore, a humanities teacher at Burke Town School, received the 2018 Victor R. Swenson Award. Named after the Council’s first Executive Director, the award recognizes a Vermont educator who exemplifies excellence in the teaching of the humanities.
Morgan is no stranger to the Council’s programs. She helped direct a Humanities Camp at the school in 2018, and is also integrating our Vermont Reads 2019 choice, March: Book One, into her middle school curriculum.
“Students often choose graphic novels,” she said. “Then they find out that they can be hard to read. March: Book One will help me teach some important points about the civil rights movement, and also allow me to share some reading strategies for how to approach graphic novels.”
Morgan has consistently tried to involve the town of Burke and its landscape into her teaching. “I think engagement in middle school is key. Students are just going to learn more when they are engaged,” she said. “A lot of our students are very engaged in the outdoors, so we’ve taken them cross country skiing, biking, and hiking.” She continued, “Part of the value is getting the students to take part in healthy activities, but it can also help them learn to love where they live.”
For one of her initiatives, “Humans of Burke,” students interviewed community members and created portraits of their interviewees that were then displayed in a local coffee shop.
“They were blown away with how many people came to see their work. The café was packed with people,” Morgan said. “I think they felt like they had done something for the community. It was really nice for them to see that their writing and artwork could be that powerful to people.”
Morgan loves giving students the chance to access both “mirrors and windows” through reading: mirrors to reflect their own experience, and windows to learn about other people or cultures. “Being a humanities teacher, there is so much room to do both of those things,” she said. “I see students growing what they love, and also learning about new things in the world to grapple with.”