Makakilo Professor Earns History Educator Award
Justin Vance of Makakilo has been named 2015 Hawaii History Educator of the Year by History Education Hawaii Inc., Hawaii council for the National Council for History Education.
The Hawaii Pacific University associate professor of history was recognized for his dedication for “advancing history education in Hawaii.”
The acknowledgement was a nice surprise for Vance, who didn’t know he was being considered.
“There is no doubt that Justin Vance is an exceptionally gifted historian and history educator,” stated History Education Hawaii cofounder Jeffrey Bingham. “He has distinguished himself through ￼￼years of persistence and hard work in the unrelenting pursuit of educational excellence in the academic discipline of history.
“His teaching and advocacy of historical literacy in Hawaii has propelled him to touch the lives of many, both inside and outside the classroom.”
In the college’s history department, Vance’s focus is on military history — a topic he’s found fascinating since his formative years watching Ken Burns and his Civil War documentary. He also credits 1993 classic Gettysburg for furthering his interest.
“That got a lot of people excited about Civil War history at the time,” he said.
While Vance teaches history in the classroom, he also has assumed the role of interim dean of the military campus.
“I’m able to reach and help a broader number of students reach their goals,” he said.
He also is president of Hawaii Civil War Round Table, whose mission is to educate the public in the form of events and lectures.
In addition, Vance is affiliated with Hawaii Sons of the Civil War and has immersed himself in the significant role Native Hawaiians played in the Civil War for both the Union and Confederacy. It’s a little-known but very important aspect of Hawaii’s history.
Most recently, in October 2014, he was part of the group that dedicated a ceremony to mark the burial site of Pvt. J.R. Kealoha at Oahu Cemetery.
“There was a whole group of people born in Hawaii who served in the American Civil War who had been forgotten about,” he said. “Pvt. Kealoha embodied this group of people. By recognizing him and getting him the headstone, it helped remember the whole group.”
As if his community extracurriculars aren’t enough to keep him busy, Vance also co-authored “Pacific Islanders and the Civil War” in Asians and Pacific Islanders and the Civil War, which was released last winter. (The book is available for purchase online at eparks.com.)
“The book project itself took about a year,” explained Vance. “But the research that went into it, I’ve been working on since 2001 (just one year after moving to Hawaii).”