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View From Vis: Meet Social Studies Teacher Ms. Rawson-Haeg

Ms. Brittany Rawson-Haeg teaches Middle School Social Studies here at Vis. Let's get to know her a little better!

Ms. Rawson-Haeg has a BS in Social Studies Education from New York University and an MA in American history from Pace University. Her thesis won the Gilder Lehrman Prize for Distinguished Research. She has International Baccalaureate MYP certificates in interdisciplinary unit design, individuals and societies, and assessment. In 2015, she completed a curriculum fellowship at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture at the New York Public Library. She has worked on a number of published projects with professors at NYU and SUNY, including a forthcoming book on project-based learning. 

1. How long have you been teaching at Vis?

I’ve been at Vis for three years, and I’ve been teaching for a little over a decade--first in New York City, before coming home to Minnesota.  

2. What do you love most about teaching at Vis?

I love teaching young women and helping them see themselves in history. In my social studies classes growing up, I remember feeling disengaged and uninterested, but at the same time, I devoured historical fiction with female protagonists. That’s a disconnect that never needed to exist. Bringing girls into the historical narrative by teaching history that includes their stories is joyful and empowering. 

3. What are some highlights of your Social Studies curriculum?

We get to work with some really cool primary sources. Anti-slavery poetry written by women as early as the late seventeenth century, letters written by a teenage girl during the American Revolution, and a number of sources from the archives at the Minnesota Historical Society are just a few examples. We work hard to mirror the working practices of real social scientists, and that starts with the sources we use. 

This year we made podcasts about the history of colonial India, and I was blown away by the research and storytelling the girls did!

We also do a number of simulations of historical events, which teach girls perspective-taking skills. In eighth grade we finish the year with a United Nations simulation, where the girls represent countries from around the world and try to resolve a global issue from their country-specific perspectives. 

4. What do you hope your students come out of your class having learned?

I hope they learn to view other people with complexity. Rare is the real person who is a true villain, or a true hero, and common is the person who is complexly, beautifully, and imperfectly human--and that recognition is a big step toward empathy.  

5. Lightning Round! What is your favorite...

Book you've read this past year?
I just finished reading “Code Girls” by Liza Mundy, which is the story of the women who worked in cryptology during World War II. 

Activity to do in your free time?
I love to bake. I’ve made six cakes in the last month! 

Place to travel to?
New York City- especially in the fall

Bucket List destination?
I’d love to visit some of the places we study, like Iran. 

Many thanks to Ms. Rawson Haeg for sharing her thoughts. She makes us #visproud!