Award winner

Milton High School social studies teacher Val Crofts pulls sits at his desk momentarily while teaching an AP United States Government and Politics class on Friday, Jan. 31.

Val Crofts, who teaches AP U.S. government and politics, U.S. history and U.S. military history at Milton High School, recently was named the state’s recipient of the Outstanding Teacher of American History Award given by the Wisconsin Society Daughters of the American Revolution.

He and teachers from other states were nominated for the national award.

“I was pretty excited,” Crofts, 48, said of winning the award. “I’ve admired the DAR for a long time because of the work they do to promote history education and civic education.”

In an interview Friday at school, Crofts called himself a “history geek,” and his freshman daughter, Grace, laughed before admitting that was true. After all, the family dog, a beagle-dachshund mix, is named Winston Churchill.

Geek or not, Crofts’ history expertise has taken him places.

In 2017, he was appointed by then-Speaker of the House Paul Ryan to serve on the U.S. Semiquincentennial Commission, a national committee formed to plan a celebration of the Declaration of Independence’s 250th anniversary.

Crofts also created Discovering Democracy, an upper-level political science course that takes Milton students to Washington, D.C., to conduct research. Hundreds of students have met with Supreme Court justices, members of Congress and House speakers through the program.

High school Principal Jeremy Bilhorn said he wasn’t surprised to hear Crofts had earned the award. He said Crofts has the ability to connect with students and get them excited for college.

“He really allows students to discover democracy,” Bilhorn said. “I think certainly his project has created a culminating experience for the social studies department. … He has created that unique experience for students to transition into what it’s like to be a college student.”

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