At its annual meeting in August, the American Lawyers Alliance awarded Hillary Baker with the 2014 High School Teacher of the Year Award.
(pictured–Michael Browning, Hillary Baker, Andrew Merritt)
Baker is a Social Studies Instructor/Academic Instructional Coach at East Kentwood High School in Kentwood, Michigan where she is an advisor/coach for the award-winning We the People team.
According to Baker, as a political science graduate from the University of Michigan, she entered the teaching profession with a strong interest in law-related education which she felt was the best way to teach students to think critically, solve problems and to become actively engaged with their local and global communities.
With twenty years of teaching experience, Baker has developed standards-based curriculum and assessment strategies for courses in U.S. History, Criminal Law, Civics and A.P. Government and Politics. In addition to coaching We the People, Baker has been involved in many other law-related civic education programs, including Model United Nations, Teen Court, Close-Up, and Mock Trial.
To keep up to date, Baker has been involved in countless professional development opportunities, including:
•Advanced Law-Related Education graduate coursework at Michigan State University
•Supreme Court Summer Institute cosponsored by Street Law and the Supreme Court Historical Society
•Summer Institute on International Affairs, George Washington University, World Affairs Council of Washington, D.C.
•We the People professional development seminars at Hope College and the University of Michigan
•John Marshall Seminar: The Man and his Judicial Philosophy in Richmond,
•Civitas International Civic Education Exchange Program in Usti nad Labem and Prague, Czech Republic which focused on content and strategies for preparing students for democratic citizenship.
Baker has also shared her expertise at conferences and workshops, including:
•Michigan Council of Teachers on strategies for integrating literature in social studies classrooms.
•Michigan Center for Civic Education annual Educating for Citizenship Conferences on 1) how to prepare students for the Civic persuasive writing assessment on the Michigan social studies assessment.; 2) how to teach the high school Civics content expectations focusing on the role of the United States in the world using the Choices Program.
According to Baker, much of her teaching has been focused on promoting the values and principles of citizenship, and teaching students to think critically about both national and international issues. “At a time when it seems like social science education, and specifically, civic education, has been pushed to the side it is even more necessary than ever before to equip students with the skills and knowledge it takes to be an active citizen”.
For over fifty years the American Lawyers Alliance has been active in its support of public education, citizenship awareness and various service programs. Recognizing the vital role that teachers play in law-related education, the ALA continues to sponsor its annual Teacher of the Year Awards.