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A Van Buren history teacher recognized by the Arkansas National History Day competition in April is being featured on the national newsletter this month.
Teddy McMurray has been a National History Day teacher since 1985, supporting and leading students to competition statewide and at the national level.
McMurray was nominated by his twin brother, who teaches history in Alma, and was named a 2013 Behrig Award winner in April. Though he did not win at the national level, he was recognized at the national competition in Maryland in June.
At the beginning of December, McMurray was notified that he had been chosen to have his profile featured on the NHD website and newsletter for the month.
“It’s always humbling to be recognized for an award, and to be nominated by your brother; it makes you feel pretty good,” McMurray said. “Teachers don’t get a lot of recognition.”
As part of NHD, students choose historical topics related to a theme and conduct research through libraries, archives, museums, oral history interviews and historic sites.
Last school year was the first in 10 years that McMurray had students continue on from state to the national competition, he said.
“We’ve been shut out for a decade,” McMurray said. “It’s a very tough academic competition.”
In spite of its difficulty, or perhaps because of it, McMurray is dedicated to the contest and encourages students to enter each year, he said. He believes that dedication may be the reason the NHD chose him to spotlight, he said.
“I fully believe in the contest because I’m working with kids who are on their way to college; they need to learn how to research, and research well,” McMurray said.
McMurray has been teaching for more than 30 years, and currently teaches advanced placement government and politics.
In his NHD profile, McMurray said if given the choice, he would like to have dinner with George Washington. His favorite quote is, “The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter,” said by Winston Churchill.