Introducing Jake Rhoades, the 2018 Montana History Teacher of the Year

Jake Rhoades

Montana History Teacher of the Year

Jake Rhoades, Roy High School, Roy, MontanaSince 2004, 749 exemplary American history teachers from elementary, middle, and high schools in all fifty states, Department of Defense schools, Washington DC, and US territories have been named State History Teacher of the Year. The National History Teacher of the Year is named in the fall. The 2018 State History Teachers of the Year were asked informal questions by the Gilder Lehrman Institute. 

Do you have a favorite/funny moment from teaching?

One example that comes to mind was a recent mock jury selection that we did in class. The students had to fill out a jury questionnaire and answer questions verbally as you would in a real life scenario. Students were also paid in M&Ms (two per mile) for how many miles they traveled to get to our mock courthouse—the kicker being that one girl traveled 50 miles to school and the rest of the participants were within five miles. It was a lot of fun to see the reactions at the end of our session when the payments were divvied out. 

Tell us one fun historical fact about the town you live in or grew up in. 

One fun historical fact about Roy, Montana (the town that I teach in) is that it was originally supposed to be named Ray, Montana, for the brother of the person who was naming the town. However, when the town was registered the person could not read the writing on the official document, so the town became Roy, Montana. 

What is the last great history book you read?

The last great history book that I read was Plain, Honest Men: The Making of the American Constitution by Richard Beeman. It is a very interesting account of the day-by-day proceedings of the Constitutional Convention. 

What is your favorite historical site or museum?

In Montana, my favorite historical spot is the city of Butte for its mining heritage and because of the War of the Copper Kings, which is really an unscrupulous period of history. The city boasts 10,000 miles of underground tunnels in a seven-square-mile area.

If you could travel back in time and meet any historical figure, who would it be and why?

Oliver Hazard Perry. In the War of 1812 Perry’s actions during the Battle of Lake Erie against the British are simply incredible. A lot of people have heard the phrase from Perry’s battle flag, “Don’t Give Up the Ship,” which he actually did because it (the USS Lawrence) was shot to pieces. However, he refused to surrender and rowed out to another ship (the USS Niagara) and went on to win one of the greatest naval victories in United States history. 

What is your favorite historical film or series?

My favorite historical film is Gettysburg, mostly for sentimental reasons. 

Do your students have a favorite historical topic or era?

I would say that my students probably enjoy the colonial/Revolutionary era. 

What advice would you give to young people, in high school or college, who may be considering a career in education but are unsure?

The advice I would give young people who may be considering a career in education is to DO IT! You may not get paid as well as other jobs out there, but helping shape young people’s lives while teaching a subject you love is worth its weight in gold.

Click here to nominate a teacher for the 2019 state and national awards.