Winthrop School teacher hailed for social studies instruction

Bernadine Lormilus, center, is pictured with the BPS History administrative team: Kerry Dunne, Natacha Scott, and Josue Sakata and Mass Council for the Social Studies president Steven Seto.

Bernadine Lormilus has been teaching the third grade at the John Winthrop Elementary School in Dorchester for just a year, but in that time she has made a remarkable difference keeping her students up to date on current events.

Lormilus was recently awarded the state’s top honor for a social studies teacher, the Barbara Capron Award for Teaching Elementary Social Studies by the Massachusetts Council for the Social Studies. The award is given annually to teachers who are creative, innovative, and strategic in their methods.

The 39-year-old Lormilus, a Boston native who attended the Murphy School and Hyde Park High, has been teaching in the Boston Public Schools for seven years.

“I had exceptional teachers as a student,” said Lormilus. “I remember my high school teacher singing to the class so we could remember our prepositions, an example of teachers using many teaching styles to get students to learn. I have used many of the teaching methods that were helpful in my learning. I relate my history lessons to current events. I bring in speakers, I do a lot of role play and reenactments. The students love it, and most importantly, remember the lesson.”

Lormilus was nominated for the award because of how dynamic she is with her students.

“She helped to pilot a program using resources and visits from the Spellman Museum of Stamps and Postal History to help her students learn about US geography through stamps,: said Thelma DaSilva Ajayi, communications specialist for BPS. “She is a believer in experiential, place-based education, and takes her students on the road to learn about history at the Pierce House in Dorchester (home to 10 generations of Bostonians from the 1600s through 1960s), the JFK Library, the Commonwealth Museum, and many other sites, and she helped to expand our relationship with the Freedom Trail Foundation. Her students are becoming ‘Freedom Trail Scholars’ after completing an interactive program learning about the events of the Revolutionary Era in Boston.”

In addition to her trailblazing efforts as an elementary school teacher, Lormilus is also part of an initiative to help recruit talented teachers of color to work in the Boston public schools. For more information on this effort, please visit