In a moment of absurd debate in this nation, involving how we teach our nation’s complex, dark and joyful history, those of us in Oak Park and River Forest should be very proud that a history teacher at OPRF has been named the Illinois History Teacher of the Year.

When we read today’s profile of Tyrone Williams Jr., a 19-year veteran at OPRF, we were deeply moved by his sense of history as the story of people, particularly those whose lives were lived on the margins and kept on the margins by the larger forces we more typically consider “history.”

His students and our reporter Bob Skolnik, after a session of the inaugural semester of an AP African American Studies class, said Williams actively involves each student in the discussions while creating an open space for substantive learning without judgment.

Williams says his approach to teaching has grown over many years, with less lecturing from the podium and more focus on challenging students to grow their own expertise, find their own voices, make mistakes and “fix their mistakes.”

This is powerful learning within an institution open to teachers who bring great passion and insight to their work.

Congratulations to Dr. Williams.

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