Dargenio receives statewide teaching recognition
By Hub City Times staff
MARSHFIELD – Marshfield High School’s Dan Dargenio has been named the 2019 Wisconsin Council for the Social Studies (WCSS) High School Teacher of the Year. Dargenio was nominated for the award by some of his students.
“When you get nominated by a student, to me it holds a lot more weight than being nominated by somebody else, even your colleagues,” Dargenio said. “So, when I got nominated, that was exciting enough; that was an award in and of itself.”
Dargenio teaches World Studies and Advanced Placement European History at Marshfield High School.
“Students are bombarded with information on social media, and my big push this year was to really slow down, see where they’re getting that source, where is that information coming from; and, very quickly be able to say, ‘Is that a credible source? Should I spend time reading this, or is it not credible? Should I just dismiss it?’ he explained. “Everybody’s got an opinion on social media, and so I think that’s really starting to resonate with my students. You have to be knowledgeable on topics, which takes time and takes a lot of effort, but then be able to judge the validity of sources. With fake news and our current political situation, to really make sure that these students are well prepared to analyze the plethora of information that’s going to be thrown at them on a minute basis, on an hour basis, on a day basis.”
In his World Studies course, Dargenio is covering modern politics – topics like what’s going on in Russia and China – and taking a much broader approach to what’s going on globally, after most of his students took United States history as freshmen and sophomores.
With European History, Dargenio is trying to answer questions like ‘How did Hitler rise to power?’ and ‘How did Stalin rise to power?’ “And we analyze them as humans, and we try to recognize what’s going on today that resembles that,” he stated. “Because humans haven’t evolved that much in the past 500 years, so we can learn a lot from the previous regimes and the previous social strifes that have happened in countries to see how that relates to today’s topics.”
So how does Dargenio get today’s students excited about all of those topics? “I think energy,” stated Dargenio. “I think if you do anything energetic enough, even if it might be boring. I foster a really trusting relationship of inquiry, of questioning, of critique, of deeper knowledge. With that, I think they start to really groove on the fact that they know more than they did. And with that newfound confidence, I can ask them to synthesize, to question what’s happening, to come up with their own ideas, to rank leaders, give them a letter grade, things they would’ve never thought before.
“I think it’s a situation of mutual trust. I think it’s energy. You put on a show every day. I think that mutual trust, combined with energy, creates a culture of excitement about a topic that, at first glance, doesn’t really probably look that interesting.”
Dargenio is in his 11th year at Marshfield High School, after graduating from St. Norbert College in 2008. He is a native of Eagle River.