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Mount Vernon Recognizes Excellence in History Teaching Fairfax County Teacher Honored

Ariel Alford
Ariel Alford
George Washington's Mount Vernon has awarded the 2023 History Teacher of the Year to Ariel Alford, a high school history teacher from Hayfield Secondary School in Fairfax County, Virginia. 

The Mount Vernon History Teacher of the Year award is presented annually to one teacher in the Washington D.C. Metropolitan area who brings creativity and passion to their teaching, generates a love of learning, and deepens their students’ understanding and appreciation of history. The award winner receives a cash award of $5000 and a fully funded field trip to Mount Vernon for their students.

Ms. Alford teaches United States History and African American History at Hayfield Secondary School in Alexandria, Virginia, and is in her eighth year of teaching. In addition to teaching, Ms. Alford serves as a key member of her district’s curriculum and professional development teams, including work with Instructional Services to develop a high school curriculum that includes culturally responsive approaches to U.S. History and professional development facilitation to teachers in the county teaching African American History and Culture courses. 

Her dedication to furthering the development of a strong and inclusive curriculum is reflected in her work as a curriculum writer with the National Women's History Museum and as a content developer for the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) Digital Learning Initiative - Smithsonian Learning Lab Program. She is also an active member of Teaching for Change’s D.C. Area Educators for Social Justice.

A colleague wrote in a recommendation for the award, “I am continually impressed with her creative lessons and engaging learning opportunities that task students with critical thinking. Ms. Alford not only focuses on teaching content to students but also recognizes her students as young adults and works to help them discover their role as informed citizens.” Another added, “She uplifts students to know that they, and their voices, are valued.”

This year’s runner-up, Leila Matta, is a sixth-grade teacher at Kenmore Middle School in Arlington County, VA. She will receive a cash award of $500 and distance learning programs for her students.

This year marks the 15th anniversary of the Mount Vernon History Teacher of the Year award provided through generous support from the Robertson Foundation.

The award review panel is comprised of Mount Vernon education staff who design programming and resources for K-12 students and teachers to support further Mount Vernon’s mission and vision in schools across the country.

Mount Vernon's Vice President for Education, Allison Wickens, says, “Mount Vernon is indebted to great history teachers. It is our honor each year to champion leaders in this field. We are proud to showcase the importance of their work and the lasting impact of their daily efforts.”

Mount Vernon Director of Learning, Tramia Jackson, will present the award to Ms. Alford at 7 p.m. ET on June 13 during The George Washington Presidential Library at Mount Vernon’s 2023 Annual Martha Washington Lecture.


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