Trumbull teacher named an American Lawyers Alliance Teacher of the Year

TRUMBULL — It’s been a good few weeks for Trumbull High history teacher Kathleen Boland.

First, Trumbull High School’s We the People team — made of students in Boland’s AP American Government and Constitutional Studies class at the school — placed 10th out of 47 teams at the national competition in Washington, D.C. Then, on Friday, the Oklahoma-based American Lawyers Alliance announced that it had named Boland one of its 2022 Teachers of the Year.

The purpose of the program is to highlight the work of civics and government teachers across the country, said Barbara Smallwood, chair of the ALA’s Teacher of the Year committee. The ALA is a national organization affiliated with the American Bar Association, whose aim is to promote civic- and law-related education.

“The American Lawyers Alliance is concerned that our high school students are not getting the civics education that they need to become informed citizens,” Smallwood said. “Many schools have cut those programs from the curriculum. Our goal is to reward teachers who are going the extra mile to expose students to why the law is important and what their roles as citizens are.”

Boland said she was nominated by a We the People teacher from another state, and was thrilled to receive the honor.

“I was speechless when I first found out, which is very rare,” she said.

Boland has been a teacher for nearly 20 years, and has been at Trumbull High School since 2010. Before that, she worked at Harding High School in Bridgeport from 2003 to 2010.

We the People is a competition in which students take part in mock Congressional hearings and are scored on such criteria as constitutional application, reasoning and supporting evidence. Boland has led Trumbull High to 10 state championships and four top 10 performances at the national We the People competition, including this year’s.

The American Lawyers Alliance’s Teacher of the Year award has been around for more than 50 years, Smallwood said. This year, the alliance awarded three Teacher of the Year awards and one Lillian B Jarvis Teacher of the Year, which Smallwood said rewards government teachers in Title I schools that typically do not have additional resources to supplement the classroom education.

The winners of the award receive $3,000 and a $1,000 travel stipend to attend the American Bar Association annual meeting in August. That’s where Boland and the other winners receive the award.

Boland said she appreciates not just the award, but the acknowledgment of what she and other government teachers do on a daily basis.

“This is an acknowledgment of what teachers do every day, particularly in civic education,” she said. “We’re the ones teaching our future voters. We’re the ones encouraging our future voters to keep our republic alive.”