Huntingtown, MD – Jeff Cunningham, social studies teacher at Huntingtown High School, is the 2017 winner of the Patricia Seitz Teacher of the Year Award from the Archeological Society of Maryland. The award recognizes excellence in instruction that develops and/or incorporates archeological content, projects, and/or activities into the classroom. Mr. Cunningham was nominated by his students and the staff at Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum (JPPM).
Dr. Daniel D. Curry, Superintendent, said, “Mr. Cunningham makes great use of the excellent resources of JPPM. He is outstanding.”
“Mr. Cunningham,” said Supervisor of Social Studies Cecelia Lewis, “is truly dedicated to the advancement of archeological study and creates a wide range of opportunities to expose students to its continued relevance in our world today.” One of those opportunities is a long-standing relationship with JPPM that has provided rich and authentic learning experiences. The collaboration between JPPM and Huntingtown High students began in 2009 when the archeology classes began working with former Education Director Kim Popetz to produce audio tours of the park. The free tours focus on three different aspects of park history and are accessible by cell phone. Later, the students in both the archeology classes and club took on the challenging task of analyzing the contents of several mid-19th century privies that archeologists excavated from a site in Baltimore in 1980. Working with Ms. Popetz and Dr. Patricia Samford, Director of the Maryland Archaeological Conservation Lab at JPPM, the students repaired broken artifacts, researched the historical context, and documented their findings in the “Curator’s Choice” publications that are available on the JPPM website.
Mr. Cunningham’s dedication to his profession extends beyond introducing students to the academic pursuit of archeology. Rick Weber, principal of Huntingtown High, said students sign up for archeology classes because of Mr. Cunningham. “They embrace the academic projects,” Mr. Weber said, “because of his enthusiasm for the topic, his engaging teaching, and the rapport he builds with his students.”