WVHS teacher one of 54 nationwide to receive James Madison Fellowship


WVHS teacher one of 54 nationwide to receive James Madison Fellowship

May 12, 2022

Congratulations to WVHS teacher Ms. Melissa Hamilton on being one of just 54 educators to receive a 2022 James Madison Fellowship, America’s most prestigious award in constitutional history and government for secondary teachers. The James Madison Memorial Fellowship Foundation announced the list of recipients for its 30th annual fellowship competition on Monday.

James Madison Fellowships support the graduate study of American history by aspiring and experienced secondary school teachers of American history, American government, and civics. The goal of the James Madison Fellowship is to help them become outstanding educators of the U.S. Constitution.

“I am so excited and appreciative to have received this honor,” said Ms. Hamilton. “I’ve always had a passion for the Constitution and early American history, and I truly love the whole foundational concept of so many people of diverse backgrounds coming together to make it work.”

Ms. Hamilton shared that as a little girl she would “beg [her] mom to pull the car over” so she could read the historical markers along the route to wherever they were headed.

“That was me! I’ve always been that person,” she said. “I remember for my third grade school picture I even picked the Constitution as my background.”

Ms. Hamilton has passed the travel practice on to her students by doing what she’s dubbed “Historical Sightings” in her classroom. She asks them to take pictures at historic sites around town or when they’re on vacation, and bring them back to share in school. She recently had a student take pictures during a family road trip, which tied into her classroom lessons about President Eisenhower’s interstate highway system, troop movement, and mobilization.

“He said, ‘I saw it. I saw it on the highway,’” she said with a smile. “They get so excited to say they saw what we’ve been talking about. That’s all I need in life. It makes me so happy.”

The Fellowship provides Ms. Hamilton with $24,000 toward an advanced degree program, and she plans to use that money to pursue another master’s degree, this one in political science. She is currently considering her options, which include Arizona State University and Fairleigh Dickinson University. She had initially been targeting Columbia University, but expanded her search when she learned that Columbia doesn’t offer a part-time program.

“I would have to take a year off – a sabbatical – and I just don’t want to stop teaching for a year,” Ms. Hamilton said. “That’s literally the only reason I wouldn’t do it.

Ms. Hamilton said she’d like to send a shout out to Mr. Nappo, her history teacher in Middletown who further stoked her love of the subject, and whose enthusiasm for it has served as a model for getting kids as fired up about history as she was – and is still.

“Fast forward 20 years, and here I am, doing my thing and engaging students to teach them that history isn’t just about something old, it’s about things we still live and breathe every single day,” she said. “I love what I do and I’ve never felt that this isn’t for me. I wake up every morning and get to tell really cool stories, get kids excited about something that I was excited about.”

Named in honor of the fourth president of the United States and acknowledged “Father of the Constitution and Bill of Rights,” the James Madison Fellowship recognizes promising and distinguished teachers. It serves to strengthen their knowledge of the origins and development of American constitutional government, and thus to expose the nation’s secondary school students to accurate knowledge of our nation’s constitutional heritage. The James Madison Memorial Fellowship Foundation was founded by an Act of Congress in 1986, and is an independent agency of the Executive Branch of the Federal Government.

Please join us in congratulating Ms. Hamilton on this prestigious honor.



If you enjoyed this article, subscribe now to receive more just like it.

Comments are closed.