Meet Andrew Connally
What’s one of your favorite topics to teach?
I especially love teaching anything about Eastern Europe, particularly Russia. That area has always been my area of passion and travel as well. I first went to that area in 1994, five years after the fall of the Berlin Wall. I returned in 2004 and again during my sabbatical in 2011. To see so many famous sites associated with the Ancient Régime, World War I, the Russian Revolution, World War II and the Cold War is truly fascinating.
That's why I love working with my 10th grade students on a project in which they research and write about topics related to the causes, events and results of the First World War. I think that war may be the most important event of the 20th century because it set the world on a path that has led to so much change, positive and negative, in the decades that followed.
What is special about Agnes Irwin?
AIS is a place that you can be yourself and stretch and grow as a professional and as a student. It’s full of marvelous colleagues who are consummate professionals and learners and become great friends. Our students really care about the school, their studies and each other. What more could one ask?
Do you have a favorite AIS tradition?
I love it when alums come back to visit and tell me that they felt really well prepared by the time they got to their college or university. It’s an added bonus if they say that they plan to major in history! I fondly remember our SSP trips to the Deep South to see sites of the Civil Rights Movement, and how much our students felt moved by their experiences, and how their essays reflected how dedicated they were to making the world a more just place. Of our traditions, I love the Winter Holiday Assembly best, especially the girls singing in their various groups.
What do you hope students take away from your class?
I hope my student take away a sense of wonder and curiosity about the past and the confidence that they have the skills they need to delve deeper into any topic that interests them.
What do you like to do in your free time?
In my free time, my greatest loves are reading, seeing good films, eating great meals and traveling as often as I possibly can, whether in the United States or abroad.
What's something we don’t know about you?
I went to Florida State University for undergrad and law school, and practiced law for five years before I decided to switch to what I’d always wanted to do: teach history.
You spend most of your summers working as a park guide at National Park historic sites, and were even interviewed “on the job” by a 6ABC reporter, who asked you to explain the significance of Independence Hall. What do you enjoy most about leading tours?
Since 1989, I have had the pleasure and honor to lead tours of the many historic sites in Independence National Historical Park. I’ve had the privilege of speaking to thousands of visitors, folks from the USA and folks from dozens of other countries as well. Most of the visitors I’ve spoken to aren’t famous but a few are well known (Thurgood Marshall, Kofi Annan, George Schultz, Ellen Burstyn, governors and legislators from many states, and many members of Congress and the U.S. Armed Forces).
However, to me, the greatest honor of all is to be able to share with anyone and everyone who will listen the stories of the great events that took place in our historic sites. I’m not just speaking of the Continental Congress and the Declaration of Independence it adopted, or the Constitutional Convention and the Constitution it wrote that saved our nation. I also want to share the stories of ordinary people of that time period and talk about both the good things that were done in these historic places as well as the things done that we’re not very proud of today, especially things that perpetuated the evils of slavery and racism that we’re still dealing with today. It’s always humbling to work in such amazing places!
Teaches: Middle and Upper School history (American, European)
Years at AIS: 31
Involvement at AIS: History teacher, faculty advisor to Model UN, member of the Discipline Committee, member of the Sabbatical Committee; has led two SSP trips to the Deep South to study the Civil Rights Movement, as well as trips to China and Australia
Outside of AIS: Park guide at Independence National Historic Park
AIS is a place that you can be yourself and stretch and grow as a professional and as a student. It’s full of marvelous colleagues who are consummate professionals and learners and become great friends.