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CSU Alumna the Ohio recipient of prestigious national award

The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History awarded each year

CSU Alumna Marilyn Orseno (MA, 2014) has been named the 2023 Ohio recipient of the state winners of the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History National History Teacher of the Year. 

As a bonus, she is also amongst the top 10 for the National History Teacher of the Year, announced later this fall.

Oresno teaches AP U.S. History and College Credit plus American National Government and is year number 7 at North Royalton High School. She was ecstatic when she discovered she was the award winner for Ohio this year.

“I am honored to win the award [and] I feel extremely lucky to be able to teach subjects that I believe are some of the most important classes students take in K-12 education,” she said. “I am also surrounded by talented and supportive educators and awesome students every day – so the award is really a bonus!”

As the award winner, Orseno received $1,000, a certificate recognizing her outstanding achievement, an archive of books and historical resources, and a ceremonial recognition.

To be considered, eligible teachers (three years or more) must first be nominated by a colleague, parent, or student. The committee then evaluates candidates based on the following factors:

  • A demonstrated commitment to teaching American history (including state and local)
  • Evidence of creativity and imagination in the classroom
  • Effective use of documents, artifacts, historic sites, oral histories, and other primary sources to engage students with American history
  • Consideration of these factors is based on the grade level taught to accommodate the teaching requirements of both generalist and specialist teachers

Oresno says one of her top priorities as a social studies educator is not only to engage with students but also to put themselves in the shoes of a historian, stressing the importance of critical and analytical skills in what appears to be a predominantly data-driven world. 

“I design my lessons around the goal of helping students discover “history in action,” even though the subject is often misinterpreted as inactive,” she said. “To do this, I use prompts and scenarios where students conduct primary and secondary source analysis to peel back the many “layers” studied in history by looking at events from multiple points of view; it is really rewarding to observe students uncover the complexities of the stories that shape us and make connections to the present day.”

Orseno quickly pointed to her time as a graduate student in the CSU history department as invaluable, providing real-world experience and the skills necessary to be who she is in the classroom today.

“From 2013-14, I was able to contribute to the Cleveland Historical app with the Center for Public History + Digital Humanities, curate an exhibit at The Shaker Historical Society, dive into archival research, carefully analyze historical arguments, and develop an appreciation for the rich local history that surrounds us,” she said. “I take all of what I have learned in these experiences and hope to create a space where my high school students can sharpen their ability to research, analyze, and develop an appreciation of where they are and where they come from.”

Even though she has a successful teaching career, Orseno isn’t resting on her laurels. She was so fond of her time at CSU that she is now back for a second go-around, entering her second year in the Urban Educational doctoral program in Policy Studies. She hopes to research policy related to curriculum development in Social Studies education.

“I am so grateful for the amazing support and guidance from the professors in the doctoral program whose classrooms have created a space for people to advocate, challenge, and learn from each other,” she said. “I hope to create a similar atmosphere for my students in the classes I teach.”

Orseno credits the faculty at CSU for helping shape her into the educator she is today and for going the extra mile to ensure she was on the right path toward her eventual career.

“As a social studies teacher, I walk into the classroom with the experience of being trained as a historian by the best professors who are truly invested in the success of their students,” she said. “There are so many positive things I can say about my experience as a graduate student in the Cleveland State History Department [and] the incredible people and program on the 13th floor of Rhodes Tower offers so many avenues for students to apply the extremely transferrable skills a history degree provides.”