Antioch New England Alum Named Exemplary Civics Educator

Jennifer Kramer earns Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) award for teaching civics and citizenship
By Tom D’Errico, Brattleboro Reformer Staff
(reproduced by permission of the Brattleboro Reformer)

Saturday, February 21
BRATTLEBORO — A Guilford Central School teacher is being recognized by the VFW for her exemplary work teaching civic responsibility, flag etiquette and patriotism in the classroom.

Jennifer Kramer placed first in the state VFW sixth- through eighth-grade division of the Citizenship Education Teachers’ Award, Rene Rocheleau, VFW State of Vermont Americanism chairman, announced at a recent VFW Council Meeting in St. Johnsbury.

“I’m pleased to be receiving an award that recognizes projects that encourage students to become active citizens,” Kramer told the Reformer. “Not only are they learning, they’re actually doing real work so that one day they’ll become active in their own local and state government.”

“Obviously we’re very proud of her,” said Ron Stahley, Windham Southeast Supervisory Union superintendent.

“Highlighting the civics and teaching of democracy, from the local level to the state to the national, she does an awful lot with the students, with community service,” Stahley said, “and she does a nice job teaching civics and democracy for her students.”

Kramer is now eligible for the VFW’s National Citizenship Education Award in the same division which includes monetary awards for professional development and Guilford Elementary, and a trip to attend the VFW and Ladies Auxiliary National Community Service Conference in Washington, D.C.

Kramer is the middle school social studies teacher and the adult advisor for the editorial staff of the Guilford Gazette, the school’s newspaper. Though Kramer is quick to point out that “it’s not just a school paper, it’s a town paper.” She also teaches a summer course at Antioch New England Graduate school on place-based social studies for people working toward Masters of Education.

“I practice place-based education,” she said. “You look for projects that will engage students in their local environment.”

While Kramer is the one being recognized, she’s quick to point out that she’s not the only one working hard.

“I feel that the kinds of projects that I do are collaborative projects,” she said. “I’m not doing all the work. The kids and I are working together. I’m good at structuring the projects, but the sixth-graders do the work. You’re empowering them to do the work. The trick is to figure out projects that allow them to show what they can do. You come home from a project and the kids are pumped, and they feel like they make a difference.”

Stahley said that Principal John Gagnon was a key in the nomination process for her. And Kramer is also appreciative of the support she has within her school.

“One of the joys of teaching here is that I’m at a school with a long history of teaching service learning projects with students. I don’t know of other districts that encourage this kind of progressive circular.”

Kramer, sponsored by VFW Post #1034 in Brattleboro, received first place for this award at the Brattleboro Post; subsequently, her name was submitted to VFW District II where she again was awarded first place in her division. Her name was then submitted to the state VFW program.

“I’m very grateful for this honor,” Kramer said. “It really validates my work. It means a lot … the local VFW, I’m flattered that they chose me.”

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