FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. (WDVM) — South County High School teacher Sean Miller has received the 2021 History Teacher of the Year Award from George Washington’s Mount Vernon.
The honor is given each year to one teacher in the D.C. region who brings creativity and passion to their curriculum. Miller does just that with his new African American History elective course which moves to the beat of its own drum.
“I love music. I’m a self-professed hip hop head,” said Miller.
Miller was inspired by his own social studies teacher, who let him perform raps for his projects recorded on a cassette player. Now, he is incorporating the same concept for his students, but with some more up-to-date technology.
“One thing that I told my students this year is that I was going to bring a recording studio,” said Miller. “I have students that are going to be making music projects this year based on African American history.”
The studio is capable of taping podcasts and recording songs created by the students for their projects-based curriculum. It’s unconventional, but students say, it’s what makes the class — and Mr. Miller — so special.
“I saw that he had all of his music stuff set up, and I talked to him about it, and he said, ‘Yeah, we can get it happening’…I’m just appreciative that I can learn in his class this year,” said student Jonathan Hawk.
Miller also received a $5,000 cash reward and a fully-funded field trip to George Washington’s Mount Vernon for his students.
But the biggest reward, says Miller, is being able to combine his love for music and history to teach his students.
“They’re allowed to do some things they’ve never had an opportunity to do. It allows them to love history just as much as I do,” he said.