John Russell, a social studies teacher at Burlington City High School, has been named the 2012 New Jersey Council for the Humanities (NJCH) Teacher of the Year. Russell teaches U.S. History, Advanced Placement American history and humanities to 10th and 12th graders. He also serves as the department chairperson for grades five through 12. The Mount Holly resident has been at Burlington City for 13 years.
Russell was the 2010 Burlington County Teacher of the Year and was one of the five finalists for state teacher of the year. He has earned his master’s degree in American history, has a supervisor’s certificate and is currently finishing class work for his principal’s certification. Russell refers to himself as a “lifelong learner.”
The NJCH Awards Committee referenced Russell’s “deep commitment to using the humanities to encourage his students to explore humanities concepts from multiple perspectives and to take ownership of their own learning.” The committee noted his innovative lesson plans and unique methods that address topics in such a way that enable students to expand their understanding and defend a variety of viewpoints.”
Nominated for the award by his principal, Russell is a proud product of New Jersey’s public schools. He credits his fifth-grade teacher Bert Stronstorff, now retired, and his ninth-grade teacher Doug Daniels, who still teaches at Northern Burlington High School, for instilling an interest in history.
Russell has that same type of influence on his students, as well as prospective teachers, as he frequently opens his classroom to college students who are majoring in education.
“I take my role as a cooperating teacher very seriously. I find the process very rewarding and I enjoy the fresh perspective of student teachers.”