Bangor High School’s Geoff Wingard Named ‘State History Teacher Of The Year’
Full disclosure, I've had the pleasure of knowing Geoff Wingard for many years. When I first met him, we were fellow ballet parents, as our kids all attended the same ballet school. An active member of the Orono community, Geoff also ran Martial Arts classes locally, and my son was one of his students.
Watching Wingard interact with my son and the other students learning karate, I could tell he had a really great way of connecting with and inspiring those he set out to teach. He was knowledgeable, kind, and enthusiastic. He met each child where they were at, helping them to not only tease out where their strengths were but challenging them in a gentle but effective way to improve upon the areas where they may not have been so strong.
I knew that Wingard also taught history at Bangor High, but it wasn't until I was chatting with a neighbor's son, who was getting ready to head off to college, that I realized what an impact Geoff was having on his students there, too.
Brennan MacDonald graduated from Bangor High School in 2014. He credits Wingard with helping him decide to study to become a history teacher, as well.
"Wingard helped show me how a great teacher can share their love of history with their students and make it accessible to everyone. I was in Mr. Wingard’s AP Geography class at Bangor High in 2014. He has such an evident passion for what he teaches and it was a pleasure being his student. Being in a classroom where such an emphasis was placed on appreciating the humanities helped inspire me in my own academic pursuits once I graduated."
It's qualities like the ones mentioned above that we hope those tasked with educating our children will have in the classroom. They are definitely present in Geoff Wingard, and they're the reason why he has been chosen as this year's Gilder Lehrman State Of Maine History Teacher of the Year.
According to the Maine Department of Education Website, Wingard went through an extensive process, after being nominated for the award, which included the submission of a resume, teaching materials, and letter of recommendation, and then a review and ultimately a selection by a committee of Maine state education professionals.
"The History Teacher of the Year Award highlights the crucial importance of history education by honoring exceptional American history teachers from elementary school through high school.
Wingard has been teaching in public schools for 21 years – all of which have been at Bangor High School where he currently serves as the History Department Head.
Wingard shared that while the recognition as a Gilder Lehrman HTOY is a wonderful honor, it has also made him a more self-reflective and thorough teacher."
Wingard says he was very flattered to be nominated.
"...This isn't a thing you can seek out or campaign for... I'd say that while I love teaching advanced and accelerated courses, the best moments of my career have been in classes and with groups of students who (like I was) are just 'regular kids'. When you get the opportunity to make a connection with a student who maybe doesn't think of themself as a scholar, but who suddenly 'gets it ' and makes a breakthrough, that is a wonderful experience."
Not wanting to stay too long in the spotlight, Wingard was quick to share the moment with another individual connected with Bangor High School.
Congratulations, Mr. Wingard. Thank you for all of your effort, dedication, and inspiration. Keep up the great work!