Phebe and Zephaniah Swift Moore Teaching Award

Steve Schmidt

History teacher
Lowell High School
San Francisco, California

In her nomination of Steve Schmidt, Christina Won ’15 describes the extent to which his ingrained love of history—and the impact it has on students—blurs the line between Schmidt’s job and his life outside the classroom. “[Y]ou can never really tell where his teaching stops and his real life begins,” she writes. “His passions, backgrounds and identities profoundly inform the [study of] settings and time periods [in] the classroom. … He doesn’t just teach American history; he is American history.” After four years at Amherst, Won sees in Schmidt a personification of the College’s mission to educate students to prepare them to lead “principled lives of consequence.” Schmidt, Won says, provided her with “a great example of what a ‘life of consequence’ means, because not only did he spend his life doing what he loved, but he taught roomfuls of 16-year-olds that we, too, can learn to do the same.” Amidst everything she and her classmates learned from Schmidt, Won believes his talented and passionate teaching left one indelible lesson above all: He “firmly believes that every single one of us in the classroom will go on to change the course of American history, and change it for the better.”