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Teacher Honored for Connecting Medieval History and Gardening

Upper School history teacher Dr. John Terry was recognized for his work connecting history with gardening.

His lesson, “Gardening with the Dead: A Medieval Monastic Practicum," received an honorable mention in the 2019 Lone Medievalist Prize for Teaching competition. The Lone Medievalist is an organization that runs scholarly and pedagogical support programs for medievalists who are the only or one of a very few at their educational institution.

The lesson connected sophomore History of the Ancient World students with Walafrid Strabo’s ninth-century poem Liber de cultura hortorum––the “Book on the cultivation of gardens”––and Westminster's community garden. The project challenged students to read medieval sources on gardening, conduct research, and cultivate crops in the garden.

Dr. Terry worked alongside Discovery teacher Emily Horne to receive a grant from the Glenn Institute to acquire period-accurate tools, seeds, and plants for the lesson and for hands-on teaching in the garden.

The lesson originated from Dr. Terry's own research on determining how people of the past made sense of nature. His article, "Æthelwulf’s De abbatibus and the Anglo-Saxon Ecological Imagination," was recently published in The Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies, a peer-reviewed history journal out of Duke University Press.

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