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Michigan SAR Candidate Janice Payne Yates Wins Dr. Tom & Betty Lawrence American History Teacher Award

29 Jul

Michigan SAR Candidate Janice Payne Yates Wins Dr. Tom & Betty Lawrence American History Teacher Award


Author: Rae Ann Sauer

President General Thomas E. Lawrence is pleased to announce that Ms. Janice Payne Yates has been awarded the 2015 – 2016 Dr. Tom & Betty Lawrence American History Teacher Award. Yates’ entry was submitted by the Michigan SAR’s West Michigan Chapter. As this year’s winner, Yates will receive a $1,400 stipend to cover tuition and transportation expenses incurred upon attending a national seminar for professional development. These professional seminars include the Freedoms Foundation Summer Teacher Graduate Workshop at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania; the Colonial Williamsburg Summer Teacher Workshop in Williamsburg, Virginia; the Jefferson Symposium at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia; or the SAR Annual Conference on the American Revolution.

Yates teaches Economics, Advanced Placement (AP) Micro and Macroeconomics, Constitutional Studies (Honors,) and AP Government at East Grand Rapids High School. For the past fifteen years, she has successfully coached East Grand Rapids High School students participating in the “We the People” national competition. This highly competitive program tests students’ knowledge of the historical, philosophical, and current day applications of the United States Constitution. Student recommendations along with parental praise for Yates’ work with her students confirm their respect for her dedication to the program and civic education.

“My teams have won the Michigan state competition twelve of the last fifteen years, and eleven of the twelve teams I took to Washington, D.C., for the national competition have placed in the top ten and earned the opportunity to compete in congressional hearing rooms on Capitol Hill,” stated Yates. “The students who have competed on my teams have gained a deep understanding of our nation’s history and have reached a level of civic engagement that is truly inspiring.”

Janice Payne Yates began teaching in 1987 at Georgia’s North Cobb High School. After transferring to Michigan, she attained her Masters in Education from Grand Valley State University in 1999. She went on to teach at Hudsonville High School before moving to East Grand Rapids High School in 2000. Yates has served as an adjunct professor at both Davenport and Grand Valley State Universities.

East Grand Rapids High School Social Studies Department Chair Christine Mapes emphasizes that “Janice is an excellent teacher….she exhibits the very best characteristics of a history teacher and brings passion each day into her classroom.”

Second place for the 2015 – 2016 Dr. Tom & Betty Lawrence American History Teacher Award was awarded to the Texas SAR candidate Ms. Kathryn Pratt from Whitehouse, Texas. Pratt teaches AP United States History and AP Government at Whitehouse High School. She has taught history for the past ten years and according to Principal Dr. Jonathan Campbell, “Pratt is one of the best American history teachers in Texas.”

Ms. Misti K. Stevens, a candidate from the Kansas SAR’s Henry Leavenworth Chapter, placed third in the competition for the Dr. Tom & Betty Lawrence American History Teacher Award. Stevens has taught American history for the past three years at Leavenworth Senior High School. “Stevens challenges her students on a daily basis to develop their critical thinking and analyzing skills,” states Principal Thomas J. Barry EdD. “Students are expected to be responsible for their learning as they grow in historical knowledge and as citizens.”

The Dr. Tom & Betty Lawrence American History Teacher Award was created to support educators such as Yates, Pratt, and Stevens as they immerse their students in curriculum focused on the American Revolution era from 1750 to 1800. Through the engagement of professional development seminars, these award-winning teachers will engage their students with a heightened level of creativity and enthusiasm for the American Revolution era. More information on the award and the SAR’s other youth and education awards can be found here.


Michigan SAR President Rod Wilson, Janice Yates, and West Michigan Chapter President Ken Goodson

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