Saunders named DAR honoreePublished 8:51pm Saturday, March 9, 2013
The Constantia Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution nominated Holly Saunders, a teacher at Nansemond River High School, for the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution Outstanding Teacher of American History Contest.
Though Saunders was not picked at the state level to advance to the national competition, the chapter is proud of its nominee, Regent Faye W. Sobel said.
“She is truly an example of someone ‘born to teach,’” Sobel wrote in a nominating letter. “She is an enthusiastic, resourceful, inspiring teacher, an example to all who know her and her devotion to her subject and students.”
Saunders won the American History Student of the Year Award in 1985 at Manteo High School. Despite the award and her aunt being a history teacher, Saunders initially took another career path, becoming a paralegal in 1992 and remaining one until 2005, when she started teaching.
After one year at Kecoughtan High School, she found the position at Nansemond River High School, which is closer to her home. She has since taught regular and honors U.S. history, government and World History I. She also now is working on her master’s degree in secondary education.
“I have always believed that students learn better from experience, so I have tried to expose them to various real life environments,” Saunders wrote in her biography. These visits have included local courts, the Norfolk Naval Base, MacArthur Memorial, Virginia Historical Society, the Civil War Museum and the U.S.S. Wisconsin battleship.
Saunders also wrote that she holds her students to high standards.
“Students understand that if you set high expectations, you are letting them know that you believe they are capable of high achievements,” Saunders wrote. “Believing in them and having confidence in their abilities are powerful motivators for high school students.”
Saunders said her confidence has paid off — she has had over 88 percent pass rates on end-of-course tests in every Standards of Learning history course she has taught. She even had 28 students with perfect scores in one year, she said.
Saunders also has co-sponsored the Model Judiciary competitive team for the last two years. Her students have won several mock trials, including the Virginia Supreme Court round.
“She has demonstrated a commitment to excellence and a dedication that promotes both the success of her students and the mission of Nansemond River High School,” wrote Janice Bibbo, assistant principal, in a recommendation letter. “Her strong work ethic coupled with her positive attitude and innate ability to motivate students creates an environment that fosters learning and meets students’ individual needs.”