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Marshalltown teacher among elite few in nation chosen for program

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO – Marshalltown High School Extended Learning Program teacher Susan Fritzell is the second Marshalltown teacher chosen for the National History Day “Legacies of World War I” program.

For the second year in a row, a Marshalltown Schools teacher was chosen for a nationwide World War I centennial education program.

Marshalltown High School Extended Learning Program teacher Susan Fritzell is one of 114 teachers throughout the country to be selected for the National History Day World War I program. She follows Miller Middle School’s Ann Jackson in being selected last school year.

“I was very pleased. Ann Jackson, who was the first teacher, had spoken highly about it,” Fritzell said. “It’s always good to have new learning to invigorate you as a teacher.”

The program will see Fritzell take part in readings and research on veterans in the post-war environment in the early 20th century. In addition, Fritzell said she will be taking part in online discussions with other teachers to generate ideas about bringing their learning to their classrooms.

Fritzell has already begun readings and some discussions with other teachers.

“A lot of what we read had to do with the Bonus March,” she said. “After World War I, (veterans) came home and needed money. The government had no money. They were promised compensation, but not for 20 years.”

Despite waiting patiently for a few years, the Great Depression hit the country in 1929 and had a particularly hard impact on World War I veterans.

“They had nothing and they were also looking at some of the war profiteers who had definitely profited from the war, building their factories for munitions, et cetera,” Fritzell said of the veterans. “And (President Herbert) Hoover was bailing out those folks at the time of the depression, the industries … not the common folks.”

In her research, Fritzell said she found the contrasting presentations of the marchers in the media of the time interesting. Some columns showed the veterans as regular people looking for just compensation, while others accused them of being communists and criminals.

Fritzell said she plans to bring that discussion back to her classroom.

“Just having kids see both perspectives and debating – is it OK to stand up against the government? And when is it OK and when is it not OK,” she said.

Fritzell said her look into the Bonus March and other post-war issues will also help her provide ideas for her students as they dive into their own National History Day projects.

“I can definitely see tie-ins to this year’s theme, which is breaking barriers in history,” she said.

District Communications Director Andrew Potter said it was a proud moment for the district when Fritzell was named as part of the program.

“Mrs. Fritzell is very dedicated to her students. Her students speak highly of her,” he said. “It’s another cap in our hat for sure to have two teachers in two years be selected for this.”

Along with National History Day, the program is supported by The National World War I Museum and Memorial, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History and the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission.

For more information, visit https://www.nhd.org/teaching-world-war-i

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Contact Adam Sodders at 641-753-6611 or asodders@timesrepublican.com