Hunt­ing­town High teacher re­ceives ar­chae­ol­ogy award

Jeff Cun­ning­ham’s stu­dents re­searched ar­ti­facts at JPPM

The Calvert Recorder - - Front Page - By SARAH FALLIN sfallin@somd­news.com

Jeff Cun­ning­ham, so­cial stud­ies teacher at Hunt­ing­town High School, is the 2017 win­ner of the Pa­tri­cia Seitz Teacher of the Year Award from the Ar­chae­o­log­i­cal So­ci­ety of Mary­land.

The award rec­og­nizes excellence in in­struc­tion that de­vel­ops and/ or in­cor­po­rates ar­chae­o­log­i­cal con­tent, projects, and/or ac­tiv­i­ties into the class­room. Cun­ning­ham was nom­i­nated by his stu­dents and the staff at Jef­fer­son Patterson Park and Mu­seum.

“Mr. Cun­ning­ham makes great use of the ex­cel­lent re­sources of JPPM. He is out­stand­ing,” said Su­per­in­ten­dent Daniel

Curry in a press re­lease.

Over the past eight years, Cun­ning­ham forged a re­la­tion­ship be­tween his ar­chae­ol­ogy stu­dents and JPPM that led to their re­search of ar­ti­facts found in Bal­ti­more in 1980. The col­lec­tion of ar­ti­facts is from the mid- to late 1800s and in­cludes bro­ken pieces of din­ner­ware and glass bot­tles, among other house­hold trash from the time.

The part­ner­ship with JPPM started out with the stu­dents cre­at­ing au­dio tours, Cun­ning­ham said.

“Over a few years it mor­phed into ac­tu­ally tak­ing col­lec­tions from the mu­seum and hav­ing stu­dents work on them and that took on a life of its own,” he said.

Cun­ning­ham said his vice prin­ci­pal and stu­dent pres­i­dent of the ar­chae­ol­ogy club ap­proached him mid-Septem­ber and in­formed him they had nom­i­nated him for the recog­ni­tion by the ar­chae­o­log­i­cal so­ci­ety and that he was the re­cip­i­ent.

“I was flat­tered … and ap­pre­cia­tive. Hon­estly, I don’t al­ways care for a lot of at­ten­tion.”

As part of the recog­ni­tion, Cun­ning­ham re­ceived a plaque, a mon­e­tary prize and recog­ni­tion at the so­ci­ety’s yearly meet­ing. But the most im­por­tant thing, Cun­ning­ham said, is the en­hanced abil­ity to net­work to get sim­i­lar ini­tia­tives in other schools.

The work his stu­dents have done with JPPM has taught re­search skills, pub­lic speak­ing skills and more. His stu­dents have had their re­search pub­lished and do a pub­lic speak­ing tour each year in Bal­ti­more.

“They em­brace the aca­demic projects,” Rick Weber, Hunt­ing­town High prin­ci­pal, said in the press re­lease. “Be­cause of his en­thu­si­asm for the topic, his en­gag­ing teach­ing, and the rap­port he builds with his stu­dents.”

“This is a lot of real world skills that come out of it,” he said. As a re­sult, he added he has “seen peo­ple grow into ar­chae­ol­o­gists.”

STAFF PHO­TOS BY SARAH FALLIN

Above left, 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. Above right, Lydia Gam­ber, a se­nior at Hunt­ing­town High School in 2016, shows one of the plates she re­searched and glued back to­gether dur­ing an on­go­ing project.

Above, mem­bers of the Hunt­ing­town High School Ar­chae­ol­ogy Club spent the 2016 school year study­ing ar­ti­facts dis­cov­ered in Bal­ti­more from the 1800s. Pic­tured are two plates, a soup tureen and a water pitcher. Be­low, Hunt­ing­town High School Ar­chae­ol­ogy Club stu­dents pieced to­gether bro­ken plates and other table items and also re­searched the items to find more about how they fit in the greater his­tor­i­cal puz­zle.

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