Levin College Doctoral Student Marilyn Orseno has been named the 2023 Ohio recipient of the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History National History Teacher of the Year award. She will also be named among the top 10 for the National History Teacher of the Year later this fall.
As an Urban Education doctoral student in the Levin College of Public Affairs, Marilyn Orseno specializes in Policy Studies with a focus on Social Studies curriculum development. Her work centers on communicating the complexity of history and fostering civic engagement among high school students. In her doctoral research, Orseno utilizes social structural and cultural theory within policy studies to analyze developments in U.S. history classrooms, emphasizing inclusive pedagogical approaches.
Orseno first attended CSU as a graduate student and attributes real-world experiences as a graduate student in the CSU history department to her success in the classroom. She she credits CSU faculty for helping shape her into the educator she is today and for going the extra mile to ensure she was on the right path toward her eventual career.
“I am so grateful for the amazing support and guidance from the professors in the doctoral program whose classrooms have created a space for people to advocate, challenge, and learn from each other,” she said. “I hope to create a similar atmosphere for my students in the classes I teach.”
Dr. Anne Galletta, Professor and Chair of Levin College’s Department of Educational Studies, Research and Technology shares “Marilyn speaks and writes powerfully on her efforts to help high school students understand that the historical past is complex as is one’s role in active civic engagement. In her doctoral studies she engages social structural and cultural theory through policy studies to analyze what is happening in the U.S. in history classrooms as it relates to curriculum development and inclusive pedagogical approaches.”
Orseno has been teaching AP U.S. History and College Credit plus American National Government at North Royalton High School for seven years. This year, Orseno was thrilled to find out that she won the award for Ohio.
“I am honored to win the award [and] I feel extremely lucky to be able to teach subjects that I believe are some of the most important classes students take in K-12 education,” she said. “I am also surrounded by talented and supportive educators and awesome students every day – so the award is really a bonus!”
As the winner, Orseno received a financial award, a certificate recognizing her outstanding achievement, an archive of books and historical resources, and ceremonial recognition.
To be considered, teachers with three years of experience or more must first be nominated by a colleague, parent, or student. The committee then evaluates candidates based on a demonstrated commitment to teaching American history; evidence of creativity and imagination in the classroom; and effective use of documents, artifacts, historic sites, oral histories, and other primary sources to engage students with American history. Consideration of these factors is based on the grade level taught to accommodate the teaching requirements of both generalist and specialist teachers.
Oresno says one of her top priorities as a social studies educator is not only to engage with students but also to put themselves in the shoes of a historian, stressing the importance of critical and analytical skills in what appears to be a predominantly data-driven world.
“I design my lessons around the goal of helping students discover ‘history in action,’ even though the subject is often misinterpreted as inactive,” she said. “To do this, I use prompts and scenarios where students conduct primary and secondary source analysis to peel back the many ‘layers’ studied in history by looking at events from multiple points of view. It is really rewarding to observe students uncover the complexities of the stories that shape us and make connections to the present day.”