HUDSON FALLS u A national organization that advocates American history education has chosen a local teacher
as its 2010 Teacher of the Year.
Matt Rozell, who teaches social studies at the Hudson Falls High School, was named the Tachau Teacher of the Year, an award from the Organization of American Historians.
The award is given to an educator who enhances the knowledge of history for students through research and writing projects.
"It's a pretty big honor for me, but I also take a great deal of pride in bringing it back to my school," said Rozell, who has taught at Hudson Falls for 23 years.
A spokesperson with the organization did not want to discuss the award until it was formally announced at its annual meeting in April.
But in a letter to Rozell, the organization's award committee praised him for his work on excavating historical sites with students.
Rozell teaches an archaeology class over the summer at the Rogers Island Visitors Center in Fort Edward.
In addition, the committee mentioned Rozell's work on connecting Holocaust survivors with the U.S. soldiers who freed them from a train that was headed to a death camp in 1945.
Rozell organized two events at the high school, including one last September, in which the Holocaust survivors and soldiers were reunited, some meeting for the first time since World War II.
The reunion drew interest from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, which interviewed Rozell and sent a film crew to record the event in September.
The reunion was also featured on "ABC World News" in September. The network program went on to name Rozell and his students its "Persons of the Week."
Mark Doody, the Hudson Falls superintendent, said Rozell for years has brought World War II veterans to the school to talk with students.
"Matt has done tremendous work over the years making our student body aware of our veterans with the Holocaust program he put on. It's just unbelievable," Doody said.
Rozell created a Web site called the World War II Living History Project, which contains transcripts of interviews with war veterans. Rozell's students have been interviewing veterans for more than 15 years.
Rozell said the interviews are necessary to preserve the stories from World War II, since fewer veterans are alive today and some people have denied the existence of the Holocaust.
Rozell, a graduate of Hudson Falls, said he's most proud of seeing his students "doing the history."
"What they create is a historical document that nobody else has created," he said.
Along with the award, Rozell will receive $1,000, a plaque, a one-year membership with the organization and a one-year subscription to its magazine.
The organization has given the award since at least 1995. Rozell is the third teacher from New York to receive the honor.