Four Maryland Teachers Selected for National Professional Development Opportunity

March 26, 2021

Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, and Baltimore City Teachers Honored

(Baltimore, MD) – National History Day® (NHD) selected Maryland teachers Dr. Jermaine Ellerbe, Michelle Holden, Joshua Pleasant, and Laya Theberge for an NHD spring professional development program. Ellerbe teaches at Eastern Middle School in Silver Spring, Holden and Pleasant teach at Benjamin Tasker Middle School in Bowie, and Laya Theberge teaches at Baltimore Leadership School For Young Women in Baltimore City. Nationally, 120 teachers were invited to participate in this free opportunity.

Dr. Jermaine Ellerbe, a lighter-skinned Black man, with glasses and a closely-shaved hair cut, wears a navy blue polo. He sits on a leather chair in front of a world map. Next to the map on the right, is a blow-up globe. On the map's left, is a red box that says "Kids' Road Atlas."
Dr. Jermaine Ellerbe

The virtual program, the 2021 Historical Argumentation Webinar Series, focuses on using online Library of Congress primary and secondary sources to develop and support student research skills. In this program—a feature of NHD’s membership in the Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources (TPS) Consortium—participating teachers will collaborate for several months with each other and National History Day staff to build knowledge for teaching with online primary sources from the Library of Congress. Upon completing the course, Ellerbe, Holden, Pleasant, Theberge, and their peers will have demonstrated the ability to pair these resources with active learning strategies and to share with their students key strategies for researching, supporting, and presenting historical arguments bolstered by the primary sources.

Laya Theberge, a white woman with light brown hair, wears a maroon t-shirt with "Augsburg College" on it and a black cardigan. She holds a globe and rolling pin in one hand an a framed painting in the other (the painting itself is not visible).
Laya Theberge

The teachers chosen for this honor represent NHD’s 58 affiliates across the country and around the world. NHD affiliates include all 50 states and the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and international school programs in China, South Asia, and South Korea.

Ellerbe, Pleasant, and Theberge all participate in Maryland Humanities’ Maryland History Day program, an affiliate of National History Day. One of Holden’s students independently submitted their project and advanced  to the county-level competition. Maryland History Day students create original documentary films, exhibits, performances, research papers, or websites exploring a historical topic of their choice on an annual theme.

Joshua Pleasant, a white man, stands in front of a blackboard. He wears a black t-shirt with white print in the style of a baseball jersey that says "Teachers." Under the word is an apple with the pattern of the Maryland flag.
Joshua Pleasant

“The skills and strategies Dr. Ellerbe, Ms. Holden, Mr. Pleasant, and Ms. Theberge are developing through this series will benefit their students over the course of their academic and professional careers,” said National History Day Executive Director Dr. Cathy Gorn. “As a Library of Congress TPS Consortium member, NHD is incredibly fortunate to be able to offer this opportunity for teachers, especially now as teachers and students continue to address challenges of non-traditional learning settings required by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.”

Michelle Holden, a Black woman, with a very short haircut wears a green blouse with a pattern of white leaves and dangly earrings. She sits on a black leather chair in front of an unidentified image and her diploma from Bowie State University.
Michelle Holden

Along with NHD, Maryland Humanities is also a member of the Library of Congress TPS Consortium through a partnership with Maryland Public Television and Maryland State Department of Education, funded by the Library of Congress. Through this membership, Maryland History Day at Maryland Humanities has created 190 online history inquiry kits for use by educators and students engaged with research. The kits examine social studies/ history themes and allow for students to select a research topic of interest and analyze themed primary sources from the Library of Congress and other online resources. Our TPS Consortium funding also supports two week-long professional development workshops for Maryland educators held each July in partnership with Salisbury University and the National Archives. The inquiry kits, a dozen interactive learning modules, and other resources can be found at

Press Release