West Springfield High School social studies teacher James Percoco is one of five teachers named to the National Teachers Hall of Fame for 2011. He learned of his selection at a surprise announcement at the school on April 12.
Percoco has taught at West Springfield for 31 years and is the author of three books: Summers With Lincoln: Looking for the Man in the Monuments; Divided We Stand: Teaching About Conflict in U.S. History; and A Passion for the Past: Creative Teaching of U.S. History.
Passion for history
He is widely praised for his passion for history, his love of teaching, and his ability to engage his students by making the subject more than just the memorization of dates. Percocoâ€™s students serve as interns in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area each spring, working at Fordâ€™s Theater National Historic Site, Arlington House: the Robert E. Lee Memorial, Gunston Hall, Carlyle House, the Octagon Museum and the Alexandria Black History Resource Center.
Percoco was named to the USA Today All-USA Teacher Team in 1998 and received the Outstanding Social Studies Teacher of the Year award from the Walt Disney Company American Teachers Awards in 1993.
He has worked with Russian educators in a collaborative exchange program, led a delegation of American history educators to China, and served as a member of the advisory board of the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission. In addition, he is an adjunct professor of education at American University (AU) and also serves as History Educator-in-Residence at AU, teaching in both the education and history departments.
Percoco is the second teacher from the Fairfax County Public Schools system named to the National Teachers Hall of Fame. Linda White, music teacher at Haycock Elementary School, was inducted in 2006.