Above: Rocky Hill Country Day School’s Charlie Laurent, R.I. History Teacher of Year 2021, flanked by Geralyn Ducady of the Rhode Island Historical Society, left, and Diane Rich, RHCD Head of School, right.
Submitted by Rocky Hill Country Day School
Charlie Laurent, a teacher at Rocky Hill Country Day School, has been named the 2021 Rhode Island History Teacher of the Year, an award presented annually by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, the nation’s leading organization dedicated to K-12 American history education. The Rhode Island Historical Society coordinates the Rhode Island selection committee and the awards ceremony, which was held earlier this fall on the Rocky Hill Country Day School campus.
In 2021, parents, students, teachers, and administrators nationwide nominated a record 8,510 teachers for the History Teacher of the Year Award. Amidst a very competitive field, Laurent rose to the top in Rhode Island.
Inaugurated in 2004, the History Teacher of the Year Award highlights the crucial importance of history education by honoring exceptional American history teachers from elementary school through high school. The award honors one K-12 teacher from each state, the District of Columbia, Department of Defense schools, and US Territories. The National History Teacher of the Year will be selected from the pool of state winners before the end of 2021.
Laurent received his bachelor’s degree at Emerson College in 1993, and in 1997 he completed a master’s degree in Elementary Education from Boston College. Laurent, or Mr. L as he is affectionately known, offers his students Project Based Learning (PBL) opportunities that allow them to be directly engaged in the world beyond the campus. The PBL project with Smith’s Castle in North Kingstown began three years ago and focused on his students being “caretakers of history.” The 4th graders were empowered to take on a challenge that afforded them the opportunity to create a kid- friendly web page that is now part of this historic landmark’s website; a spot on R.I. Public Radio, an invitation to be on-site Junior Docents, and more. The extension of this project is still in progress with these same students who are now 7th graders. Their ongoing inspiration, passion, and motivation connected this 4th grade experience to the role of slavery and their engagement with the Rhode Island Slave History Medallion Project which continues today.
Congratulations, Mr. L!