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Yorktown Teacher Lives History to Teach Students

Yorktown, N.Y.-- When Chris DiPasquale used to take family road-trips, his parents would always ensure that they stopped at all the historical places all around him, and it paid off. “When I was a little kid my parents took us to every historic site—we would go to Busch Gardens in Virginia, so of course we had to go to Williamsburg, Jamestown and Yorktown, [Virginia] first—we always stopped at the museum, at the historical marker, and that kind of gave me a prior knowledge going to school,” DiPasquale said.

Now, a seventh grade social studies teacher at Mildred E. Strang Middle School, DiPasquale is trying to bring that same enchantment of history to his own students. Dipasquale is a member of the fifth New York Regiment—a group of living history re-enactors.

“We all met through that, and we all kind of took it to the next level—it gives us all a nice genuine experience that I go back and I share with my kids. I did over 25 days of living history with my kids this year—so they really get that real, not just a textbook experience,” DiPasquale explained. “Being a part of re-enacting really gives me that first hand perspective so I can go back and teach them.”

DiPasquale’s own experiences as a teacher put him on a path to write his first novel, titled “An Object of Great Importance: The Hudson River During the American War for Independence.” DiPasquale said while teaching at a school in Peekskill, he realized how little his students knew about the history all around them. This led him to begin constructing a thesis about the history in the area, which then turned into his book.

The teacher said his interest in American history stems from the fact that it’s the foundation for the rest of our nation’s history. “It’s really the foundation for the rest of our history—you can’t go forward to see what we’ve done without really examining what came before,” DiPasquale said. “But that’s what makes it so great when the kids get to see it in living history—it’s not just me dressed up in a funny costume, they’re really understanding history first-hand and seeing what it’s like and then they make the connections to present day.”

Although he’s always the teacher when it comes to history, DiPasquale said he’s learned his fair share during the re-enactments. “It’s really one thing to read and to learn and to research about the conditions people had to live during wars—but it’s another to really be there, to be soaked and wet all day while re-enacting a battle. At the end of the day I can go home and dry off—but they had to do this every day,” he said. “But that’s the kind of thing I try to bring back and teach my students. We can only learn about so much without really doing it.”

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