The Gilded Age – the era so famously put into words by Mark Twain and others at the turn of the century – isn’t on the forefront of high school students’ minds, at least not yet.
|Ryan Fontanella |
Ryan Fontanella, a 30-year-old graduate student at the University of Houston-Victoria, is on a mission to bring the end of the 19th century to life for his history students at Robert G. Cole High School in San Antonio.
Fontanella is one of 30 teachers across the nation selected for an all-expenses paid, competitive seminar in July at Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif.
“It’s one of those time periods I don’t like very much and my students don’t like very much, either,” Fontanella said about the Gilded Age. “I thought honesty would be the best route. I pretty much told them I dislike the Gilded Age.”
The seminar, which is put on by the New York-based Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, will examine the Gilded Age and its modern parallels. Fontanella hopes to get new ideas for his classroom from the training and make the subject material more exciting and relevant.
Fontanella and his wife, Victoria, who also is a UHV student, enrolled while teaching in the Victoria Independent School District. They now live in San Antonio.
“UHV has been a great program for both my wife and I, and we recommend the online programs to a lot of our coworkers,” Fontanella said. “You can work on your own time and still make a connection with your professors.”
While he finishes his advanced degrees in history and homeland international security, Fontanella is looking toward a lifelong career inspiring high school and community college students to think critically about history.
With a double life as a sports coach, Fontanella said he also recommends UHV to students who play baseball.
“It’s nice to say that I like the school I’m attending, and I think others will be a good fit because they’re looking for academic rigor and a place they feel they can get along,” he said. “UHV is a good way to go.”