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Mairi Wohlgemuth • History • Amador Valley High School This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This work has won the Teen Ink contest in its category.

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I take AP classes. I do school activities. I am the student teachers count on to revive class discussions, the girl school librarians know by name, and the classmate who never turns in an assignment late. And so I am, supposedly, a good student. But I harbor a shameful secret: I used to despise history.

Like many of my peers, I took my first AP course in sophomore year. AP World History was a rite of passage – a litmus test that filtered out the brilliant students from the “average” ones. And if tests were any indicator, I was definitely, undeniably average.

I grew to loathe World History. Frankly, I simply could not understand The Earth and Its Peoples: A Global History. The entire textbook might as well have been written in Arabic because whether or not I read the chapters, I failed the tests.

Before long, I had set my World History textbook aside to collect dust the way America collects debt. History, I reasoned, is taught by sadistic old men so youthful high school students learn to appreciate the great outdoors. At least, that's what I thought until I met Mrs. Wohlgemuth. For one, Mrs. Wohlgemuth was not an old man, so there went that theory. And she didn't just teach, she flew.

In her AP U.S. History, Mrs. Wohlgemuth had a way of packing every class like a teeny suitcase – filled with more than enough clothes and shoes, as if we were all going on a trip and never coming back – without feeling overwhelming. She animated history and single-handedly lifted characters off the page and breathed life into them.

When Mrs. Wohlgemuth spoke, she whisked us away with stories and anecdotes of America's founding fathers, as if classrooms could transcend time. Her lectures turned an hour into minutes, yet it still felt as if it'd be years before we would catch up to anything she said because she flew so quickly through the pages of history.

Through her class, I discovered in history what I failed to see before: thrill. I learned to digest decades of American history every week, to write in-class essays at 3,000 words per minute, and to articulate my own theses by dissecting and synthesizing history through the eyeglass of a historian.

Of course, there were ups and downs to the class with Mrs. Wohlgemuth. Some days I didn't even know what hit me before we were flying into the next political era. Other days I could barely move my right hand after writing a four-page in-class essay on Jacksonian economic policy. But I would never trade our class debates, the infamous 939-page textbook, or my favorite U.S. history teacher for anything.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

This work has won the Teen Ink contest in its category. This piece won the June 2012 Teen Ink Educator of the Year Contest.




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