BOOTHBAY HARBOR, Maine — Normand J. L’Heureux, a self-proclaimed “history geek” who teaches U.S. history at Boothbay Region High School, is the recipient of a 2013 James Madison Memorial Fellowship to obtain a master’s degree in U.S. history.
L’Heureux, 51, is among 56 recipients in the country to be awarded the honor, which carries a prize of $24,000.
A U.S. history teacher at Boothbay Region High School since 1997, L’Heureux plans to attend “intensive history boot camp” at Ohio’s Ashland University this summer, then take courses online during the school year before fulfilling a residency requirement next year at Ashland.
Next summer, L’Heureux of Boothbay will attend classes at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.
“Being a history geek, that’s like nirvana,” he said, adding that he plans to visit the U.S. Capitol, Mount Vernon, Madison’s home, Montpelier and Arlington National Cemetery.
“Named in honor of the fourth president of the United States and acknowledged ‘Father of the Constitution and Bill of Rights,’ a James Madison Fellowship funds up to $24,000 of each fellow’s course of study toward a master’s degree,” a release states. That program must include a concentration of courses on the history and principles of the U.S. Constitution.
L’Heureux said his high school students are excited about his fellowship, but have asked him, “Why are you going to do all of that work?”
“I told them, ‘Well, I tell you all the time that you have to do the work in my class and keep striving to improve yourself,’” he said. “If I don’t do something like that myself, I’m a pretty big hypocrite.”
Recipients are required to teach American history or social studies in a secondary school for at least one year for each year of fellowship support.
For L’Heureux that won’t be a problem.
“I’m a history geek,” he reiterated. “It’s a labor of love.”