Meet Theresa Vara-Dannen, a teacher at the University High School of Science and Engineering. She recently won the Connecticut History Teacher of the Year, an award presented by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.
The University of Hartford is the only private university in the country to have two public magnet schools on its campus, and the University High School of Science and Engineering is one of them.
The honor was bestowed upon Vara-Dannen when she was recognized for a multi-year project in her University of Connecticut ECE American Studies class. The project consisted of her students doing research on a number of relatively unknown yet historically significant African-American figures in Connecticut’s history.
Vara-Dannen received her award on December 14th during a brief ceremony at the university with her students, along with a certificate of recognition and a $1,000 award. Gilder Lehrman Affiliate School will extend their titles to the UHSSE, allowing them to receive books and other material for its school library.
The students involved in the project researched primary documents at the Connecticut State Library and the Connecticut Historical Society, along with local town historical societies. Some of these African-Americans and their accomplishments has been forgotten and have now been returned to written history. As the students walk the same streets and neighborhoods as some of these individuals, the students are discovering the histories right in their own backyards.
Vara-Dannen has been teaching at the UHSSE, a public magnet school at the University of Hartford since 2006, and has more than 20 years of teaching experience under her belt. This is a major accomplishment for an outstanding teacher, as well as this renowned university.