Alan Birkemeier
Social Studies
Central Middle School
Columbus, Indiana USA

My interest in World War II began early in life when I sat with my grandfather and looked through his old photographs of him as a soldier, standing in snow up to his neck while serving in the Aleutian Islands, and pictures of the mules he rode into the mountains of Italy.

The best way to engage students is to make education come alive and instill in them a love of scholarship that will encourage them to become life-long learners. My enthusiasm for teaching and passion for history began early in life when a teacher introduced me to National History Day.

We read in history books about the heroes but the real heroes were ordinary folks, the greatest generation, from all across the globe. This is the kind of comprehension that I want for my students—to realize that history is not about dates, time, and actions but about real life encounters by normal men and women.