A West Virginia University alumnus has received a national award for his work as a high school social studies teacher. It took a twist in professions for Phil Caskey to discover his new passion – teaching – where he excels.
A three-time WVU degree holder and current University High School (Morgantown, W.Va.) social studies educator, Caskey was named the 2016 Civil War Trust National Teacher of the Year. He was honored in July at the Trust’s Summer Teacher’s Institute in Richmond, Va.
“It’s hard to comprehend an honor like this,” Caskey, a Martinsburg, W.Va., native, said. “The studying of the American Civil War has been and will always be a lifelong, personal passion. It’s arguably the most important chapter of the American story and I’m privileged to be able to share my passion with my students about that tumultuous time period,” Caskey said
Caskey earned his bachelor’s degree in Journalism/Public Relations in 1999 and master’s in Sport Management in 2001, both from WVU. He began his career with the WVU Athletics department as an assistant sports information director. In fall 2007, former Sport Management Associate Professor Dallas Branch invited Caskey to teach a sport management class analyzing sports publicity and public relations.
Caskey immediately agreed to the arrangement. “I want to help out whenever I can.”
Not far into the course, Caskey knew he was hooked on teaching. “I found my calling without knowing it.” Caskey left his position with Athletics in summer 2010 and entered the WVU Master’s in Secondary Education program with an emphasis in Social Studies. He continued to teach the sport management class. The rest, as they say, is history.
“It started with CPASS and Dr. Branch. I took a leap of faith by leaving something I loved after 11 years. I finished my student teaching in fall 2012 and got hired at UHS in the summer of 2013.” That was a risk. Social Studies jobs are highly sought after but there are usually few openings.
A 21-year Morgantown resident, Caskey recently completed his third year as a social studies educator at UHS, and his third overall in secondary education, where he teaches the subjects of American Civil War Studies, Civics and Advanced Placement Research. His Civil War studies class has counted nearly 100 students in it the past two years.
He created the course from scratch prior to the 2014-15 school year. Many of his lessons involve project-based education and experiential learning opportunities that involve historical simulations, cross curricular ventures, primary and secondary source analyses, after-action-reports and field trips.
“To be selected by the Civil War Trust and be honored in front of colleagues from across the country is a crowning achievement as an educator. I’m very proud and I happily share this with my colleagues at UHS and my brethren in Monongalia County. I can’t thank the Civil War Trust enough for this honor,” explained Caskey.
The Civil War Trust is the largest and most effective nonprofit organization devoted to the preservation of America’s hallowed battlegrounds. Although primarily focused on the protection of Civil War battlefields, the Trust also seeks to save the battlefields connected to the Revolutionary War and War of 1812. Through educational programs and heritage tourism initiatives, the Trust seeks to inform the public about the vital role these battlefields played in determining the course of the nation’s history.
CONTACT: Kim Cameon, WVU CPASS
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