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Festi Wins 2007 Preserve America History Teacher of the Year Award

NEW YORK, NY, Nov. 16, 2007—Mrs. Laura Bush, First Lady of the United States and Honorary Chair of the Preserve America initiative, today presented the 2007 national "Preserve America History Teacher of the Year" award to Maureen Festi, a fifth-grade teacher at Stafford Elementary School in Stafford Springs, Conn., during a ceremony at The Museum of the City of New York.

"Maureen found hundreds of ways to make history a hands-on experience for her kids. She brought them to the Connecticut Historical Society so they could review the same primary documents. Stafford was the center of America's early iron industry, which was vital to the success of colonial settlements. Maureen wanted her students to appreciate her town's rich past, and its connection to American history," Mrs. Bush told the audience.

In order to deepen her students' understanding of history, Ms. Festi conducts research at libraries and historical associations across Connecticut, locating primary source documents for students to analyze, question, and challenge. Her students have used such primary information to uncover evidence of a colonial ironworks in Stafford, as well as state and community involvement in the Revolutionary War. Ms. Festi's students experience and explore historic sites in person, as well as through multimedia presentations she has created for that purpose. Ms. Festi has taught at the elementary school level throughout her 30-year career since matriculating from the University of Connecticut.

The "Preserve America History Teacher of the Year" award, a project of the White House's Preserve America initiative, is administered and funded by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. Earlier this year, finalists were selected from each state, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and U.S. Territories in the Pacific. The national "Preserve America History Teacher of the Year" is selected from the state and territorial winners. Each state winner receives $1,000 and an archive of books and educational resources for his or her school's library.

Preserve America is a White House initiative created for the purpose of encouraging and supporting community efforts to preserve and enjoy the nation's cultural and national heritage. The overall goals of the Preserve America initiative include a greater shared knowledge about the nation's past; strengthened regional identities and local pride; increased local participation in preserving the country's cultural and natural heritage assets; and support for the economic vitality of communities.

The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation and other federal agencies partner to administer the various components of Preserve America. For more information on the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History teacher of the year click here.

Updated December 21, 2007