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Distinguished Achievement Award - 2017

Philip Bigler (’74; ‘76) received a B.A. in History and a M.Ed. in Secondary Education/History from Madison College. He then went on to be a history/humanities teacher for Fairfax County Public Schools from 1975 –2001. During this time, he earned his M.A. in American Studies from the College of William and Mary and left teaching for a 2-year stint as the Historian for Arlington National Cemetery. Bigler returned to teaching history at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, garnering many accolades for his excellent classroom teaching. Mr. Bigler earned the most prestigious award for a classroom teacher, being honored as the 1998-1999 National Teacher of the Year and was selected for the Milken Educator Award in 1999.

In 2001 Bigler returned to James Madison University to lead the James Madison Center in its mission to honor the legacy of the nation’s fourth President and the father of the U.S. Constitution. From 2001- 2010, Mr. Bigler oversaw all aspects of the Madison Center including academic research, public relations, and teacher training. During his tenure at JMU, Mr. Bigler taught courses in American Studies, History, Education and Political Science.

Philip Bigler is a sought after keynote speaker and has appeared on numerous television programs including Late Night with David Letterman, Good Morning America, and Nightline. Bigler is the current Editor/President of Apple Ridge Publishers, producing books, lesson plans, and other resources for classroom teachers. Mr. Bigler is the author of nine books. His latest work is entitled Scandalous Son: The Elusive Search for Dolley Madison’s Son, John Payne Todd.

While at JMU, Philip Bigler started the Teachers of Promise Institute, in conjunction with the Virginia Department of Education, and the Virginia Milken Educator Network. Each spring the Institute convenes to celebrate the decision to teach and to activate its participants to achieve professional excellence. This innovative program has now recognized more than 1,800 outstanding preservice teachers from Virginia’s 37 college and university Schools of Education. 

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