Sequim’s Billes named ‘Teacher of Merit’

Sequim teacher Tricia Billes recently was named the 2010 National History Day Walt Crowley Teacher of Merit for Washington state. Sequim Gazette file photo by Michael Dashiell

Tricia Billes makes this look easy.

The Sequim Middle School history and humanities teacher recently was selected as the 2010 National History Day Walt Crowley Teacher of Merit for Washington state for her efforts to make Sequim one of the top middle schools in History Day competitions.

Fellow teacher Todd Beuke nominated Billes.

“Through her insight and vision, Tricia has transformed our school,” Beuke wrote in his nomination letter.

“Her efforts have created a school in which every student is taught research skills and experiences creating both a research paper and project. She was able to organize all the social studies teachers in the building together in order to create a standard research curriculum. The focus of the library was changed in order to accommodate all the students with their research.”

History Day sees students put together extensive research projects that use first-hand sources and incorporate the fundamentals of writing and constructing arguments.

About 11 years ago, Beuke took on the national History Day Project for Sequim Middle School and Billes joined him a year later.

Beuke notes that in the past nine years, Sequim Middle School has sent more than 50 students to the National History Day contest.

Billes also started the school’s annual “History Night,” when parents and community members are invited to view more than 400 student projects that fill both school gymnasiums.

Billes was named the state History Teacher of the Year award winner by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History in 2006.

As winner of the Walt Crowley Teacher of Merit award, Billes is to be honored at the state History Day contest on May 1 in Bellevue and is the state’s nominee for the national PBS Teacher of Merit Award at the National History Day contest, slated for June 12-176 in College Park, Md.

Reach Michael Dashiell at

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