What is Make It a Project?
“Welcome to class. I’m Mrs. Russo and I will be your teacher this year.”
Those are some of the most exciting words I have ever spoken. And for over 8 years, I repeated that phrase to hundreds of students.
My name is Blair, and I am a Social Studies teacher.
I grew up in Columbus, Ohio where I taught full-time at Reynoldsburg High School for six and a half years before becoming a mother. In January 2016, I moved across the country to sunny Los Angeles, California where I currently reside with my husband and two daughters.
From Mild Interest
To Deep Passion
I did not always know I wanted to be a teacher, but I always loved history and learning.
Not every child misses a roller skating party to study for the states and capitals test in the third grade. But I did.
And it has remained a passion ever since. I think my love for history came out of my upbringing.
Both my grandfathers served in the military (Army and Air Force) and represented our country in WWII, Korea, and Vietnam.
My own father was in the 82nd Airborne Division of the Army after he graduated high school. Because of this, I always had a respect for the military and an interest in how this country has been shaped.
History has always been a part of my life. As kids, my parents would take my sister and I to Washington D.C. and Colonial Williamsburg.
And I never complained. In fact, I loved it.
Me and Dad on a family trip to Washington D.C.
The teachers I had growing up fueled my interest in history even more. I had amazing teachers who created fun and interactive lessons. I can still remember the projects we did in their classes. Through those projects and by making learning meaningful to my own life, they inspired me to become a teacher myself.
I often look back on those experiences and realize how hard those teachers worked to make my life as a student engaging and fun.
Turning My Interests Into
My Life-Long Profession
After high school, I enrolled at The Ohio State University and in 2006 I received a degree in Integrated Social Studies. The following year, I received my Master of Education.
I was lucky enough to have a mentor at Reynoldsburg High School who believed in me and helped me get a job immediately after graduating. I taught American History for the majority of my time at Reynoldsburg.
Over the years, I found a passion for more hands-on learning. I realized that I excelled at creating projects. Plus, projects gave me the opportunity to work with students one-on-one. They also allowed the students to think outside the textbook and create something in a history class that had meaning and required them to dive into the content.
Career After Having a Child
After having my first daughter, I took time off from teaching. But shortly into my break, I knew I was ready to jump back into the game.
I missed being creative. I missed the students. And I missed the content.
So I took a job at an alternative program at Gahanna Lincoln High School where I worked with students with behavioral disabilities in a small group setting. These students were awesome. They loved learning in a different way, and I loved teaching them in a different way. I worked hard to create projects that related to the real world and they appreciated that.
Our Transition West
In the fall of my second year at Gahanna, my husband had the chance to move to California to take on a larger role at the fast-growing startup he was working for. I really loved my job, but this was a wonderful opportunity for him and our family. So we packed up, sold our house, and landed in sunny Los Angeles a couple months later. Since moving, I had our second daughter and am ready to start making a difference again.
My family at Will Rogers State Historic Park in L.A.
I wanted to be able to spend time at home with my children but still wanted to engage the teacher side of my brain.
A Website Is Born
I asked myself how I could use my experience to help current teachers in their own U.S. History classrooms. I thought about my favorite (and least favorite) parts of teaching, packaged up and refined the best projects I had created in my own classroom, and built Make It a Project for active teachers today.
Creating these projects has been an amazing experience – and there is a lot more in store. As any teacher reading this knows, there is never enough time in the day to do it all. It is my hope that these resources allow you to take a few items off your plate and spend more time teaching, engaging your students, and living your life outside of the classroom.