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District Teacher, Support Staff of the Year

Portia House

Matthew Horn teaches social studies at University City High Shool. But Horn is no ordinary social studies teacher--he makes learning come alive for his students. Horn's relationship with his students, along with a strong approach to instruction and collaboration with his colleagues, were instrumental in his selection as the District's 2017-18 Teacher of the Year. Horn was surprised in his classroom on April 3 by Superintendent Sharonica Hardin-Bartley, Dr. Ian Buchanan, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, Principal Susan Hill and others to announce his selection.

Portia House serves as the Administrative Secretary at Flynn Park Elementary School. She was stunned to see the caravan of supporters coming into her office to share news that she has been selected as the District's Educational Support Person of the Year.

"I'm so very honored," House said. "It's just family here; that is what we have become. We really support each other and that makes you feel good when you come to work."

House has been with the Dsitrict for 18 years. She started out at Pershing Elementary in 1999 then went to Jackson Park Elementary to work in the library for eleven years. She also worked at the now-closed Delmar-Harvard Elementary and Brittany Woods Middle School before being assigned to Flynn Park Elementary School.

"I'm really shocked but when you enjoy where you work it makes things a lot easier," House said.

Horn makes learning easier for his students. In an essay written to support his nomination, Horn said three words typically used by others to describe his leadership style and relationships with students are: passionate, reflective and authentic.

"My passion for students and my content is authentic," Horn said. "I strive to create a classroom of trust and respect where we can work together to dissect complex texts and historical or contemporary issues."

For example, during a unit on World War I, the students simulate trench warfare with paper bullets and fake gas masks, and then read actual journal entries from WWI soldiers in a bid to understand the terror and boredom of trench warfare. After each "trench scene," the students write mock journal entries as the bombs explode and dirt (yes, he collects dirt) flies into the air as students simulate the difficulties in the trenches.

"My focus on historical literacy is prevalent in every lesson and unit plan leading to high levels of student engagement in my classroom," Horn said. "Instead of memorizing and regurgitating facts, my students are the historians in my classroom. My students tackle difficult historical questons and analyze complex primary sources to live through history instead of just studying history."

Matt Horn Teacher of the Year