MASON — Wahama High School social studies teacher Catherine Hamm has been named the Stewart-Johnson V.F.W. Post 9926 “Teacher of the Year.”
Hamm was presented a certificate by the Mason post and will be honored again at the V.F.W. Loyalty Day in May. In making the presentation, V.F.W. member Ray Varian cited the increase in patriotism shown by the Bend Area students over the past few years and credited Hamm with helping to make that happen.
“We have seen increased participation in our ‘Patriot’s Pen’ and ‘Voice of Democracy’ competitions in the high school,” Varian said. “Mrs. Hamm has also helped build up these programs.”
Hamm has taught at Wahama since 2008. A self-proclaimed “military brat,” the teacher said she once won her own school’s “Voice of Democracy” contest.
Hamm’s parents are CW4 William Adkins, USMC ret., and wife, Sara, and her husband is CSM Barry Hamm, U.S. Army ret., so she is well aware of the sacrifices military personnel and their families make.
“I’ve always been very proud of being a military brat because of the opportunity to be part of an incredible legacy of service, honor and sacrifice,” Hamm said.
She added duty is very important to her and she hopes to instill that quality in her students. Hamm recently established a Rho Kappa organization in the school, which is an honor society for top social studies students.
“I want them to understand that we represent something greater than ourselves — that our legacy means we have a higher standard to uphold,” she said. “Wahama students are very patriotic and have great respect for our veterans and service men and women.”
Hamm stated when it comes to the V.F.W. programs, she tells the students to write from the heart. She said she talks to them about the service and sacrifice of the military, and what it means to be a good citizen.
“In the end, I tell them to write from the heart,” Hamm said. “Write about the feeling they get when they say the Pledge of Allegiance or see someone in uniform. I encourage them to think about all the patriots who came before them and the belief those great men and women had in their country.”
Hamm said she is humbled to receive the honor from the veterans, and added they provide opportunities for the students, as well as creating a connection. She stated the V.F.W. programs are great opportunities for writing and public speaking, but also so much more.
“It will help develop citizenship traits and love of country,” Hamm said. “Those are qualities that benefit our students, our community and, most of all, our country.”
Mindy Kearns is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing who lives in Mason County.