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Ladue Publications

Ladue High School's student news site

Ladue Publications

Ladue High School's student news site

Ladue Publications

Made for Madison

Social studies teacher Connor Katsev wins James Madison Fellowship Award
Vincent Hsiao
Social studies teacher Conner Katsev wears his medal, commemorating his achievement of winning the James Madison Fellowship Award. For Katsev, this medal represented everything he worked towards throughout his career. “Some advice would be, don’t get discouraged if you apply once and you don’t get [the fellowship],” Katsev said. “The [effort] to get [it] makes it that much more rewarding when you do get it.”
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Free admission to a summer institute at Georgetown University, $24,000 to fund a graduate degree and a trip to Washington, D.C. These are the accolades that social studies teacher Connor Katsev looks forward to after winning the James Madison Fellowship Award, something that he’s been working towards for three years. 

However, it’s not just the rewards that Katsev anticipates. What makes this fellowship truly special to him is the opportunity to further explore U.S. history and share his hard-won knowledge with his students.

“[The award surrounds you with] other people, other fellows who are just as like-minded as you and think like you,” Katsev said. “Hearing from what they have to say and getting ideas is going to be helpful. I’m really excited to say [that] this is my job. I have to learn the material the best [that] I can and then bring it back for my students.”

Katsev learned about the award from a former recipient when he was student-teaching at Marquette High School, but didn’t seriously pursue it until he joined Ladue High School’s social studies department two years ago. He was inspired to attempt it by the community around him. 

“The department around me, we are always looking to grow, we’re all like-minded and self-starters and want to be involved,” Katsev said. “When I fell into this department, I saw myself fitting right in and wanting to do that kind of stuff. And [the James Madison Award] is in that ballpark.”

At Ladue High School, Katsev has found three mentors to guide him: social studies teachers who have won the fellowship previously and could give him advice. One of these mentors was social studies teacher Riley Keltner, a 2019 James Madison Fellow, who encouraged Katsev to apply.

“It was inspiring to me how adamant [Katsev] was to improve his application year after year,” Keltner said. “He did all the right things and he contacted the right people and tried to be really present with people at the fellowship. [It] impressed me to see his work ethic on perfecting the application.”

For both Katsev and Keltner, winning the award meant more than just a medal. It was an opportunity to improve professionally in their careers.

“We don’t go into teaching for the money,” Keltner said. “At the end of the day, we are professionals. To be able to improve your craft at no cost is simply unheard of in this field. This is the one area where if you can get this fellowship, it changes not only your career, but your life.”

After earning his master’s degree in U.S. history, Katsev plans to bring his deeper understanding of the curriculum back to the classroom for his students.

“In teaching, trying to learn and do something while I’m teaching the content helps,” Katsev said. “When I’m getting this master’s in U.S. history, every class I take is going to be early American history. I’m teaching that stuff while I’m learning that stuff. I know I’ll become a better teacher.”

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About the Contributors
Ira Rodrigues
Ira Rodrigues, Staff
Ira Rodrigues is a sophomore staff member on Panorama. This is her first year on staff. Ira loves reading, watching old movies, and anything chocolate.
Vincent Hsiao
Vincent Hsiao, Photo Editor in Chief
Sophomore Vincent Hsiao is the photography editor in chief for Panorama. He was previously a staff photographer for Ladue Publications where he significantly contributed to photos in both the Panorama newsmagazine and Rambler yearbook. Outside of photography, Hsiao is on the Ladue swim team and has been a swimmer since he was six.
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