United States Marshals Museum (USMM) Director of Education Leslie Higgins was honored as the 2019 Friend of History Day Arkansas by History Day Arkansas for her efforts to promote and sustain National History Day in Fort Smith area schools.
National History Day is an academic program for students in sixth through 12th grade that aims to improve history education across the country. The largest of its programs is the National History Day Contest, which sees more than half a million students annually around the world conducting historical research on a topic of their choice.
Higgins began her efforts to reinvigorate National History Day in the area in 2012 by hosting an annual workshop for area educators interested in bringing this opportunity to their students, a news release on the award said.
In 2016, Spradling Elementary reintroduced the program to its sixth-grade students. Since then, five area schools have participated in the regional competition; two have sent students to the state competition and one made it to national competition.
“Leslie is a champion for all students,” said Robyn Dawson, Spradling Elementary School principal and Fort Smith city director. “Her passion and wisdom shines through as she works to pour the love of history into students. She inspires us all to love the past and embrace the future. Spradling is a better place because of Leslie Higgins.”
National History Day is one of several educational programs offered by the USMM. Other programs include Constitution Week, Educator Resource Guides, Spring Lecture Series and Spring Break Day Camps. Additional educational programs will be available to the public once the museum opens, the release said.
“It’s inspiring to watch these students develop a passion and a love for American history,” Higgins said. “I hope the program continues to expand in our area, and more students are able to participate.”