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MOUNT VERNON, VA—The Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association (MVLA) selected its 2015 History Teacher of the Year this week, honoring Monica Shah, an 8th grade history teacher at Washington, D.C.’s Brightwood Education Campus.

“The Mount Vernon History Teacher of the Year award recognizes great teaching in the national capital region.  By calling attention to Ms. Shah's great achievements we honor not only her work, but that of all teachers who take initiative to go beyond expectations and show innovation in bringing history to life for their students,” said Ann Bookout, the chair of the MVLA Education Committee, which administers the award.

Since arriving at Brightwood in October 2012, Ms. Shah has made an immediate impact on the school and the diverse community it serves. She introduced programs such as Model UN and National History Day to her students, encouraging them to participate in these national platforms. She brought fresh energy to the Student Government Association, transforming it from a passive activity into an active organization with a voice in administrative matters.  Recognizing the importance of first-hand learning and discovery, she has championed field trips, frequently bringing her students to local sites such as Mount Vernon and the National Archives for transformative hands-on experiences.

In her application, Ms. Shah describes her approach to history education and the challenges of presenting standard U.S. history curricula in a diverse classroom, where the majority of students come from Latino and Ethiopian immigrant backgrounds. Instead of merely presenting names and dates, she strives to connect the students with timeless, universal themes and personal stories to which they can relate and principles that they can apply to their daily lives.

“My lessons shift students away from simply being consumers of information to becoming critical thinkers who question the perspectives and credibility of sources, and consider the histories of all people,” she wrote.

Along with the recognition, Ms. Shah received a $5,000 prize and an all-expenses-paid field trip to Mount Vernon for her class. For more information about the Mount Vernon History Teacher of the Year program, visit


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