John Wagner ’88: The Path to Becoming a History Teacher

By Britt Collins, Contributing Writer

Gettysburg College has earned a reputation of nurturing the next generation of leaders through bridging a college education to the real world. The network of Gettysburg alumni available to students serves as a testament to these accomplishments. John Wagner ’88 is a member of this network that continues to appreciate the ways in which a Gettysburg College education has bettered his career path.

Wagner graduated from Gettysburg College as a history major with a minor in philosophy, and he later attended Kutztown University to receive his teaching certification.

Upon learning about the history program at Gettysburg College, Wagner knew it was a fit for his future endeavors as a high school history teacher.

(Photo Courtesy of John Wagner)

(Photo Courtesy of John Wagner)

“The history program was truly amazing at the time. The Historic Methods Course with Doctor Glatfelter, although challenging, prepared me for my master’s degree since the class taught historiography,” Wagner said.  

Outside of working towards his bachelor’s degree in history, Wagner got involved around campus in ways such as intramural sports, the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity and a band that he started with his friends called the Bad Sneakers.

“My band played at a lot of different fraternities, and I got to know many other guys on campus. Also, the culture on campus was more conservative because of the Raegen era, while the faculty was decidedly liberal. Being on campus was fun because of that,” Wagner said. 

Wagner credits much of his success in graduate school to notable professors at Gettysburg such as professor of history emeritus Dr. Charles Glatfelter, founder of the Civil War Institute at Gettysburg College Dr. Gabor Boritt and professor of philosophy emeritus Dr. Kerry Walters. 

“Dr. Kerry Walters really taught me how to think outside the box and my writing skills improved so much because of it,” Wagner explained. “Skills like how to research and document sources put me ahead in grad school.” 

Wagner experienced a quick transition from receiving his teaching certificate to then being hired as a teacher, and he explained how his undergrad education served him well.  

“I was thrown in immediately as a teacher and I experienced a lot of learning on the job because of it. But coming out of Gettysburg College, I got off to a greater start than I would have because I was taught to think so effectively,” Wagner said.

After seven years of teaching in Baltimore County, Wagner went back to school to earn his master’s degree in history at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Wagner said that the content he learned through Gettysburg’s history program enabled him to approach learning and thinking differently, and it also helped him to pull concepts together effectively in graduate school.

Now teaching at Dulaney High School as a history teacher, Wagner has noticed how his undergraduate education at Gettysburg College prepared him in and outside of the classroom.  

“Not only did the skills I learned at Gettysburg make me a better teacher, but I’ve been able to use those things to help my students become better prepared for life outside of high school,” Wagner concluded. 

Author: Gettysburgian Staff

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1 Comment

  1. Excellent piece. I know John Wagner and the students he produces, they all have some Gettysburg education because if it.

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