LIVERMORE — Janet Ventrella is not one to seek out the limelight, nor is she boastful about her accomplishments as a schoolteacher.

She was honored earlier this year with the Maine History Teacher of the Year Award from The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. Yet, Ventrella, who teaches fifth grade at Livermore Elementary School, was low key about receiving the award.

“I was fairly surprised,” she said. “It’s humbling. There are a lot of teachers that deserve it as much as I do.”

The qualifying criteria for the award requires K-12 teachers to have the following:

-At least three years of classroom teaching experience

-A demonstrated commitment to teaching American history (including state and local history)


-Evidence of creativity and imagination in the classroom

-Effective use of documents, artifacts, historic sites, oral histories, and other primary resources to engage students with American history

Ventrella was nominated by a staff member at Livermore Elementary. Her passion for history is evident as she talks about its role as part of a holistic education for students.

“We learn from our past,” she said. “You don’t want certain events of our past to repeat, so you need to teach students how to avoid repeating them.

“History is so important,” she emphasized. “We’re slowly, at the elementary level, shifting away from history and testing student performance in literacy and math.”

To keep history alive in the classroom, Ventrella has been creative and has integrated it with reading and writing. Students make ample use of the library to discover how the events of the past have impacted the world.


“I’ve always loved the past, and I enjoy sharing it with the students,” said Ventrella.

This is her 10th year teaching. She used to work at a family health center in Livermore Falls. When her children were in school, Ventrella spent considerable time volunteering in local schools and enjoyed it so much she decided to change careers.

“It was a great decision. I love teaching,” she said. “I love the students; I love being with them. I love watching them grow and just having fun with them.”

All the State History Teacher of the Year awardees receive a prize package including a certificate of recognition, a $1,000 award, a collection of classroom resources to be presented in their name to the school library, and an invitation to participate in a Gilder Lehrman Teacher Seminar. Each winner’s school will become a Gilder Lehrman Affiliate School. Winners are honored in a ceremony in their state.

Livermore Elementary School fifth grade teacher Janet Ventrella, shown at right with her class, was recently named the Maine History Teacher of the Year by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.

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