BELTON, Texas (FOX 44) – A North Belton Middle School teacher known for bringing history to life for her eighth-grade students has been honored twice this summer for her outstanding work in the classroom.

Belton Independent School District Communication Specialist Karen Rudolph said in a press release Wednesday that Elizabeth Howson will begin her 18th year teaching next week – and that Howson was recently honored as the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History 2022 Texas History Teacher of the Year, and with the 2022 Betty Barringer Outstanding Middle School Teacher Award.

The Gilder Lehrman award honors teachers who demonstrate creativity and imagination in the classroom while effectively using documents, artifacts, historic sites, oral histories and other primary sources to engage students with American history.

The Betty Barringer award is given by the Texas Council of Social Studies for outstanding teaching and in recognition of active participation in local, state and national social studies councils.

Rudolph says Howson isn’t afraid to dress up in costumes or let her students touch artifacts. Howson has also been known to incorporate flashlights into her lessons.

“I teach the really hard stuff with a fun twist,” Howson said. “My goal every day is to smile. It is to have fun. It is to engage students and make learning something they enjoy. When students walk into ‘campfires’ and folk music, they want to know what’s going on. They want to solve the mystery. It’s about them wanting to learn and being a part of the lessons.”

Principal Michelle Tish said Howson has unique ways of connecting with her students.

“She is a gifted educator who finds fun and innovative ways to deliver content to her students,” Tish said. “The students can see and feel her passion for them and the subject matter, which ignites their own passion for learning even beyond Mrs. Howson’s classroom.”

Howson, who also loves to present at conferences to other educators, shares teaching tidbits on her Instagram account @howsonhistory

“It’s a joy to work in Belton ISD using my gifts to inspire students and empower their futures,” Howson said. “I love sharing my passion for learning and teaching with others. The recognition is just icing on the cake.”