Long Trail's Kahn selected for National History Day WWI event


DORSET — Tess Kahn pursued a master's degree in museum science because she loved history, and working with historic artifacts and primary documents.

"That's where I started off," she said Tuesday. "But I ended up working in a dusty attic."

That led her to realize what she really wanted to do was talk about history, and she went back to school to become a teacher.

That decision has paid off for Kahn and for her students at Long Trail School, as Kahn, the History chair at Long Trail, is one of 114 teachers selected for a National History Day program titled "Legacies of World War I." The program is a partnership between the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission and National History Day.

Kahn will participate in webinars and discussions while learning about World War I with teachers from around the world. As one of the selected teachers, Kahn will receive free tuition, graduate credits, and materials for the online program. Each of the 57 National History Day affiliates could choose two teachers for this honor, and the National History Day program in Vermont selected Kahn.

Originally from Woodstock, Kahn is in her sixth school year at Long Trail and her fourth as department chair. Her 10th-grade class has been reviewing the most recent scholarship on the causes of World War I, diving beyond the conventional wisdom to deeper takes on the role — and failure — of diplomacy in diffusing the conflict before it escalated into one of the deadliest conflicts in modern history. That has included some of the newest scholarships on the root causes of the war, including the work of Michael Nieberg, a historian at the U.S. Army War College.

Later, her class will look at the war through the experiences of women, African-Americans and soldiers.

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"This is something I really enjoy about history," Kahn said. "I'm a teacher because I love history. I came into teaching because I wanted to talk to people about history. So I love to be challenged. I tell my students to look at different perspectives and consider the fact history is not one story, it's a number of narratives. so in some ways, this is really fun."

Kahn studied history at Wells College in Aurora, N.Y., and earned a masters in museum studies at the University of Leicester, England. She later earned a masters in teaching at Upper Valley Educators Institute in Lebanon, N.H.

Head of School Seth Linfield saluted Kahn on the honor.

"At LTS, it is not just our students who are continuously learning. This recognition for Tess Kahn is richly deserved," Linfield said in a news release. "Everyone here deeply respects Tess as a teacher, a colleague and a role model."

This program is part of an educational partnership with the WWI Commission, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, National History Day, and the National World War I Museum and Memorial. This new educational partnership will educate both teachers and school students about World War I through a series of more than 100 teaching events nationwide.

National History Day is a non-profit organization based in College Park, Md., that seeks to improve the teaching and learning of history. The National History Day Contest was established in 1974 and currently engages more than half a million students in conducting original research on historical topics of interest. Students present their research as a documentary, exhibit, paper, performance, or website. Projects compete first at the local and affiliate levels, where the top entries are invited to the National Contest at the University of Maryland at College Park.

At the June 2018 National History Day, two of Kahn's students, Lang Quail and Oisin Harrington, won the Best in Vermont, Senior Division Award for their exhibit entitled "The Destructive Compromise: The Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921."


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