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Greenfield teacher earns honor for putting the 'social' in studies

April 23, 2013

Greenfield - A local social studies teacher whose motto is "Be the Change You Want to See in the World" was named the Distinguished Middle School Teacher of the Year by the Wisconsin Council for the Social Studies.

Gail Schlicht, a teacher since 1978, adds this year's honor to the one she received in 1998, when the school district named her Greenfield Middle School Teacher of the Year.

In the classroom, a major goal for Schlicht is helping students connect what they learn to their everyday lives and the world around them.

Among Schlicht's many accomplishments was originating and developing the District Geography Bee and Geography T-shirt Day, which she has directed at the middle school for 16 years. She also works on social studies curriculum improvement for all the Greenfield schools.

In addition to her two Teacher of the Year honors, Schlicht also was awarded a Herb Kohl Fellowship in 2002 and, in the summer of 2007, was one of 50 American teachers who were invited to South Korea for a Korean studies workshop.

This summer, she is one of only five Wisconsin teachers chosen for a humanitarian/educational project to East Africa.

Middle School Principal Brad Iding said Schlict's honor is "well-deserved."

"Gail's really adept at infusing technology to help make history come alive," Iding said. "She takes kids on virtual journeys throughout the world."

Global view

Schlicht said she believes in serving as a model for her students. She volunteers for the American Cancer Society and is active in the People to People goodwill effort.

"As a social studies teacher, it has always been my goal to show that they're global citizens," she said.

Her school website invites students to explore the world even at home by offering them links to sites. For example, some links lead students to what happened that day in history. (On Tuesday, they would have learned that the Royal Order of the Garter, England's first order of knighthood, was founded on April 23, 1348.

When her students studied ancient history, Schlicht supplied multiple links kids could use to explore for fun, Iding noted.

"That's huge," he said. "We are curtailed by the school day but we want to engage students in study outside school."

Right now, Schlicht is raising money for the East Africa trip, arranged by a professor at Carroll University in Waukesha, in which five Wisconsin teachers will work with teachers in Kenya and Tanzania. The trip will be June 18 to July 5. She has to raise $5,000. Any money raised beyond that amount will be used to buy supplies for the students in Africa.

Schlict is already thinking about how her social studies students can benefit from her African experience.

"I want my middle-schoolers to interact with the African students to connect what they read to names of real people," she said.

She hopes they can at least be pen pals, perhaps with added opportunities to Skype or do videograms, she said.

Leadership qualities

Greenfield Middle School's principal also described Schlicht as a leader.

"If I would sum her up, it would be as a quiet leader who has always given of herself in countless ways," Idling said.

She serves on school committees and help teachers adjust to the new Common Core Standards which Wisconsin schools are adopting.

"She has always been a selfless servant leader," he said.

MAKING DONATION

Anyone wanting to donate toward sending award-winning Greenfield social studies teacher Gail Schlicht to a humanitarian/educational trip to East Africa can make checks payable to Carroll East Africa, memo line: Gail Schlicht and mail to Greenfield Middle School, C/O Gail Schlicht, 3200 West Barnard Ave., Greenfield, WI 53221. The deadline is May 31.

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