Dr. Deborah Smith Johnston Named as WHA’s Pioneer in World History

Dr. Johnston (left) together with (from center to right) WHA President Merry Wiesner-Hanks and 2019 Pioneer in World History Award recipient Carter V. Findley

Keystone History teacher Dr. Deborah Smith Johnston has received one of the 2019 Pioneers in World History Award, given by the World History Association (WHA) to only two distinguished scholars or educators each year in recognition of their “extraordinary contributions to world history studies that have advanced the field in a significant way.”
Dr. Johnston joins an elite group of awardees that includes two presidents of the American Historical Association, Prof. Patrick Manning from the University of Pittsburgh (awarded in 2013) and Prof. John McNeill from Georgetown University (2009), and a National Teacher of the Year, Michele Forman from Middlebury Union High School (2012).

Dr. Johnston together with her homeroom pupils

The WHA holds annual conferences that bring together university professors, college and community instructors, independent scholars, graduate school students, and secondary school educators who make active contributions to world history research and teaching.

At the WHA’s 28th conference in San Juan, Puerto Rico on June 26-29, Dr. Johnston presented Chinese Global Cities: Supporting Academic Conversations, her local research on Xi’an, Beijing, and Shanghai, and on how best to use local history to teach a global perspective.
“I was able to talk about Keystone’s approach to the Chinese Thread, as well as the work I have done in the MYP program in both Grade 6 and Grade 10. The other presentations I was able to attend provided valuable historical context for my work at Keystone with the MYP program, both in my own teaching as well as information I can pass on to colleagues about trade cities, Caribbean slavery, sugar plantations, global food history, and historical thinking skills,” she said.

Dr. Johnston’s pupils create papyrus

Dr. Johnston began her world history teaching career in Plymouth, Massachusetts, providing a new lens for students to learn about world history. Her passion for exposing pupils to different histories and cultures has also brought them beyond the classroom, taking student delegations on historical trips across the US, China, South Korea, as well as countries in Southeast Asia, West and Central Africa, Central America, and Europe.

Keystone is proud and honored to have a formidable force like Dr. Johnston in our community. She is not only a true pioneer in world history but a visionary teacher whose passion and enthusiasm for the field continue to illuminate young minds in our classrooms.
“I am humbled by the honor and look forward to continuing to do work in the field and with the Academy,” Dr. Johnston concluded.

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