During World War II my father piloted C-47s as part of the 64th Troop Carrier Group that flew missions extending from North Africa to Europe to the Himalayas. He primarily served in Italy and Southern France— towing a glider in Operation Dragoon; dropping food, weapons and communication pigeons to the Italian Partisans; ferrying wounded to distant base hospitals; and transporting troops back home across North Africa to Brazil, Puerto Rico, and finally to the United States. Hearing these stories as a child nurtured my developing interest in history and influenced how I approach teaching the subject to young people.
My philosophy of teaching history is less about emphasizing names and dates and is more centered on coaching students to become historians themselves by developing their skills of observation, analysis, and critical thinking. Certainly, content is important, but it is essential that they be able to DO something with the content. As a teacher, I want my students to move beyond being simply collectors of data; I want them to be interpreters of their own past.