Shawnee teacher brings history to life with “Classroom Museum”

Posted on Mar 6, 2018 in Alumni News, Career/Life, and News

Keil Hileman, Shawnee teacher who brings history to life with his "Classroom Museum"

Keil Hileman believes that the best way to teach students history is to bring the history to them.

NBC’s Left Field, a studio that creates documentaries for social media, recently visited Hileman, d’93, g’96, at Monticello Trails Middle School in Shawnee, Kansas. The segment featured his “Classroom Museum,” a room full of artifacts that began as a personal collection and continues to grow due to community support.

As the video racks up views and shares, we reached out the KU alumnus to hear more about NBC’s visit, his time at KU, and his goals for his students.

 

What was it like having NBC visit your classroom?

It was a great adventure for my students and I. We had a great time meeting two amazing videographers. They have traveled the world doing stories and chose to come see what we do in our “Classroom Museum” each day. Very cool honor for all of us and our community.

What have people been saying as the video gains in popularity?

There have been lots of new artifact donations and people offering to help financially. The museum budget is currently ¼ of what it used to be so any artifacts or support is appreciated. My emotion and compassion for my students has really struck a chord with people across the country. They see how much a teacher can care about their students…. and why. My favorite connection so far has been with teachers who want to know how to start their own museums and artifact collections. It’s very exciting to see a cool idea spread.

What influences your teaching style?

I have worked hard to simply teach my students in the most effective ways for 25 years. If what I was doing did not work, I threw it away and found a better way to connect my students to the history of the world around them. I continue to use unanswered questions as a way to guide my student’s problem solving and analysis skills. This was a valuable lesson taught to me by Dr. Joe O’Brien, an amazing and awarding-winning teacher in the KU School of Education. He changed my life and allowed me to go on and change the lives of my students by opening their minds, touching their hearts and defining their dreams.

What do you hope students take away from your class?

I want my students to become lifelong learners. I want them to find a passion for something and hold on to it. I want their passion to fuel their life experiences. We have a museum credo… or belief statement:

Explore… Empower… Excel…
Explore your World
Empower yourself and others
Excel in everything you do

—Ryan Camenzind

Keil E. Hileman is one of 50 teachers profiled and celebrated in the book, “American Teacher: Heroes in the Classroom,” by Katrina Fried. The publisher notes three intentions: “To bring everyone interested in America’s future into 50 classrooms to experience public education first hand; to inspire other teachers through sharing ideas, innovations and successes; and to inspire administrators, parents and policy makers to listen deeply to the thoughts expressed by these teachers about education. Hileman was the Kansas Teacher of the Year in 2004. He was also featured in the Winter 2004 and Fall 2012 issues of the The Jayhawk Educator, a publication of the KU School of Education.

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