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2008 Teacher of the Year
Award Winner

Mary Lou Wentzel


Fairfax Resolves Chapter recognized Mrs. Mary Lou Wentzel as the 2008 Teacher of the year. Often this award goes to an American History teacher, but is open to any teacher that supports the teaching of American history in the Revolutionary War era. Mrs. Wentzel’s encouragement of youth participation in various oration contests dedicated to the Revolutionary War era makes her an outstanding recipient of the Teacher of the Year award.

President Tom Speelman presents the Teacher of the Year award to Mary Lou Wentzel. Larry McKinley also pictured (left).

President Tom Speelman presents the Teacher of the Year award to Mary Lou Wentzel. Larry McKinley also pictured (left).

The following is the speech as it was read by Compatriot Larry McKinley at the ceremony honoring Mrs. Wentzel’s accomplishments:



Much will be said about education this evening in fact this whole evening is about education of those who will replace us, our children or the community at large. When it comes to the Teacher of the Year we don’t do these things lightly—we scour the local field and sometimes reward what Fairfax County or other counties have already honored.


In this instance, Mrs. Mary Lou Wentzel, high School educator is such an appropriate choice that it is very easy to communicate the contributions she continues to make to students’ understanding of American History.


Her Virginia Postgraduate License states she may teach or hold positions in English and Speech. In fact she teaches 9th grade honors English and speech classes at Bishop Denis J. O’Connell High School in Arlington, VA. I know her as my source for oration contestants for the Chapter and lately a couple of Chapters of the SAR and the entire State. I visit three of her classes at least twice a year (sometimes three) with the express purpose of sharing my life’s story in communication techniques in civilian, military and the volunteerism world. Oh yes, I sort of mention all our youth programs and recruit people including teachers to participate in National History Day.


After Mrs. Wentzel gets through with her sales message a great group of Freshman through Seniors participate, conduct their research on the Revolutionary War (which she helps guide the students). The students assimilate the information and report on what they have learned through developing oratorical or essay skills. By the way, I want to mention Mrs. Wentzel goes an extra step. Because I talk about our Eagle Scout Scholarship Program, she has even rounded up some eagle scouts for us.


Larry McKinley presents Mary Lou Wentzel's achievements

Larry McKinley presents Mary Lou Wentzel's achievements

When I go to the National competition, I use Mrs. Wentzel’s approach to stimulating participation in youth contests on a national stage at our Annual Congress each year. Compatriots across the nation work hard to stimulate youth to enter our Oration Contest and I simply give our Compatriots a real lesson in how it should be accomplished. “You need to find a Teacher like Mrs. Wentzel. She is a teacher not of American History by title, but just the same she teaches American History by encouraging youth participation in various oratorical and essay contests and actually makes it an assignment for some”. Someone once wrote a song about this, ….“Once you have found her, never let her go”. She or He will be the best friend and partner you will ever find in stimulating youth to do research on an event, person or place during the Revolutionary War.


Well ever since Compatriot John Dickie’s daughter, Dresden, had Mrs. Wentzel for English at Bishop O’Connell, Mrs. Wentzel has been supplying the SAR with Oratorical contestants and essay contestants. She presently has enough students to regularly fuel two Chapter contests (ours and the George Mason Chapter). One year we had enough to allow George Washington Chapter to have a contest. That is a lot of Revolutionary War Period research, assimilation, and articulating what the students have learned and it’s relevance to their lives and our country.


Our teacher of the year has taught high school for 26 years, made the following specific contributions to the school community: works with debate team; Student Congress; arranges field trips to the U.S. Congress; and screened applicants for Boy’s and Girl’s State. She is the schools liaison to publicize and encourage students to enter essay and oratorical contests sponsored by outside school organizations: This is some list:


•  Voice of Democracy Oratorical Contest—first time 1965, Stow, Ohio

•  American Legion Oratorical Contest

•  Ancient Order of Hibernian Essay Contest

•  Catholic Businessmen’s Network Essay Contest

•  First Freedom Foundation Essay Contest

•  Optimists’ Essay and Oratorical Contests

•  Rotarians’ Oratorical Contest

•  Knights of Columbus Oratorical Contest

•  Publication of Student Essays in Creative Communications Anthology

•  Sons of the American Revolution Essay and Oratorical Contests


Her students this past year have won over $11,000 in scholarship monies by participating in these contests so our Teacher of the Year is promoting win-win relationships with these organizations mentioned and her students and they learn American Revolutionary War period history to boot.


Mrs. Wentzel, you get this award for your attitude toward developing young productive citizens who understand Revolutionary War period history and its relevance to their young lives today. I have to borrow a quote off your resume that speaks to your commitment to building citizenship in young lives:

“Although my Virginia Professional Postgraduate License states that I may teach or hold positions in English and Speech Communication, I truly believe it is the duty of every teacher to demonstrate and encourage good citizenship and civic responsibility to each of the students entrusted to him or her. Our blessings and freedom are not limited to a certain subject matter and thus must be demonstrated and taught by all teachers as well as parents.”




Return to current Teacher of the Year page.




2018 Fairfax Resolves Chapter, Sons of the American Revolution