Name: Lisa Hintz
School Name: Fayette Local School District
Location: Fayette, Ohio
Grades/Subjects Taught: Middle School English; High School Government
No. of Years Teaching: 16 years
For more than 80 years, residents of Fulton County, Ohio, have consistently voted for Republican candidates for U.S. president, with few exceptions. But Lisa Hintz, English and Government Teacher at Fayette Local School District in Fayette, Ohio—a village in Fulton County—is ensuring political discourse and debate take place on both sides of the aisle.
Round Table Debates
Hintz purposefully pushes her students to see the other side’s perspective by having them argue the opposite of how they feel in her “round table debates.” She organizes the students’ chairs and desks in a circle, so the students have to face each other. And she polls the students before assigning their role in debates, so she can give them the opposite side.
“I believe it is important to teach common discourse,” Hintz says. “I started the round tables with students facing each other because people can be so opinionated on certain topics. Honestly, the way the world is and how everyone is so busy yelling over and at each other, I wanted to add depth to our discussions and debates.”
Hintz says she received pushback from the students initially, but then they started to see the other side. “It may not have swayed their opinions, but they had to research the topic, look for opposing views, and gather them from multiple sites. Students are graded on their participation and knowledge of the subject. To this day, my former students comment on some of our debates and how much fun they had.”
Hintz is just now getting back into teaching Government classes, after taking a hiatus and focusing more on English. Now she is back to teaching Government and finds herself drawn to incorporating a current events-based approach to her teaching.
“Going from Government to high school English to middle school English, the dynamics have changed, and I had a flow from History to Government,” Hintz explains. “Now I am working to bring that flow back by encouraging reading comprehension and being actively involved with what is happening in the world.”
Each class period, Hintz devotes five to ten minutes to discussing current events in local, national and/or international news. “I believe it has to be more than the textbook and feeding answers,” she says. “Creating curiosity in my students about our government and the world is important to me. I try to help my students see more than what is popular in the news and learn to research before they speak.”
But Hintz is certainly aware of media bias and she says she challenges her students to watch and compare the news outlets for what they do and don’t cover. “The day Queen Elizabeth died, I had students running down the hall to give me the news. I became a little choked up, because these were students who normally would not pay attention, but now are constantly asking questions and digging deeper. I love what I do, and, man, that day, I felt like, hey, I can make a difference.”
Hintz is indeed making a difference in her corner of the world, and her students will no doubt remember her influence in their lives for years to come.