How does one become Monroe County Historical Association's "2010 Educator of the Year?"
One has to have respect for local history and dedication to helping students develop an understanding and an appreciation of the past, participate in programs offered by the MCHA, demonstrate support for the use of the resources of the MCHA in the learning environment, encourage professional development among colleagues by promoting the resources of MCHA and evidence creative use of the resources of the MCHA by individual students and small groups.
Gail Schuler, a teacher at Pleasant Valley Intermediate School believed her friend and colleague, Julie Kresge of Effort fit that bill and Schuler nominated her.
MCHA thought so too and on February 28, 2010, Julie graciously accepted the award at the MCHA's Annual Meeting and Awards Luncheon held in the Worthington Ballroom at the historic Shawnee Inn and Golf Resort.
"It was really exciting. It's an affirmation for all the work you do, that someone else recognizes all you do," says Julie.
Julie (Gower) Kresge has lived in the West End of Monroe County all her life.
She is able to trace her family tree back to when her ancestor settled in the Gilbert/Effort area. She can tell you about the businesses, the farms, the homes that existed 100, 200 years ago in the surrounding areas.
As she relates her endless store of information, she becomes animated and excited about her subject.
It is this same animation and excitement that she brings to her classroom at Pleasant Valley Intermediate School, where she is a teacher of sixth and seventh grade gifted students. It is her goal to get them as fired up as she is when it comes to learning.
Julie graduated from Pleasant Valley High School in 1981, earned a B.S. in Elementary Education with a minor in art at Kutztown University and her Master of Science in Technology Education at Wilkes College.
"I have always wanted to be a teacher, ever since I was a student in Mrs. Constance Andrews' third grade class at Eldred. I knew I wanted to be the same kind of teacher that she was because she got me excited about learning," she says.
Julie taught four years in the Stroudsburg School District before coming to Pleasant Valley 16 years ago.
"Before I started teaching, I worked at the Monroe County Courthouse. I was a purchasing agent for the county. It was a really cool job. I've always been a history buff and it was great to delve into the archives. I read the census records of 1840. It's also when I discovered the Monroe County Historical Association. I'd go visit there on my lunch hours and I'd read everything I could get my hands on," she says.
Over the years, Julie has researched almost every facet of her area's local history. She's a veritable walking history book. One of her special interest courses she created at PVI is "Local Lore." It introduces students to the study of Monroe County history in the area of their school district.
Dr. Lee Lesisko, PV's technology services coordinator and PVI's assistant principal, Dave Heath are working on a multimedia informational project and asked Dr. Douglas Arnold, PVSD's superintendent for local historical topics.
Then they asked Julie if her students would do research on them for the project.
"It's been great. We've been working on it for the last two full school years. The kids have researched subjects like the funnel cake stand at the West End Fair, the West End Fair and the Pennsylvania Dutch in the West End," says Julie.
Recently a very generous and sizable collection of Native American artifacts was donated to PV.
Julie's students cataloged and photographed each item and in so doing, learned a lot about the local Native Americans that once lived in the area.
MCHA has a program called the Traveling Trunk, designed for use in grades 4-9 where the history of Colonial America in Monroe County is taught.
The trunk includes everything a teacher needs to deliver the lessons and they must attend a three-hour "Colonial Stroudsburg-Link to Our History" workshop in order to borrow it for classroom use. All lessons address Pennsylvania State Academic Standards including social studies, language arts, reading and art. Julie has used the Traveling Trunk in her classroom several times.
Her philosophy on teaching is "I want my students to look outside the box. To think innovatively. To be able to problem solve. I encourage them to look at problems people faced 20, 40, 100 years ago and think how those solutions can be applied to problems of today. As educators, we take them to the door to look inside, but they are the ones who have to walk in."
Julie is one of those rare people who can talk interestingly and with knowledge about almost any topic, never boring the listener. She is a true Renaissance Woman.
Besides being an avid historian, she has completed two novels, is an accomplished quilter, musician, painter and photographer. Her inviting home is filled with family heirlooms and antiques she has collected over the years.
Julie lives in Effort with her husband of 21 years, William, and their two children, Rachel, 15 and Austin, 10.
As a mother, she believes it is her duty to encourage and introduce her children to all aspects of life and make everything a learning experience in a fun and interesting way.
This talented educator of the year does exactly the same in her classroom, where every day with Mrs. Kresge is an adventure.