Aaron Blais was nominated by his student, Emily Hauschildt.
Exeter High School encourages students to try their best and treat each other well. Mr. Blais has accomplished this mission on a whole new level. He connects with his students and challenges them in every way. On Hauschildt's first day of class, Mr. Blais created an easygoing, yet challenging environment by stating his rules and challenging students to do their best. Through his teaching, he successfully encourages his students to become outstanding citizens and responsible adults.
"From the three semesters I have had him as a teacher, he has shown me how to be a better citizen on a daily basis," Hauschildt said. "After experiencing AP US History with him my sophomore year, I recognized a change in myself. To him, we were adults, and we were given the responsibilities and expectations that came with the title. Through this, we gained an important aspect of ourselves, one that propelled us in our high school career: maturity."
Before Hauschildt took Mr. Blais’ class, she knew little about history.
"There is a well-known phrase 'history repeats itself,'" Hauschildt said. "I always thought history teachers used it to try to make us listen while learning about Silk Road or another subject that seemed inherently boring. Through his class, I discovered the phrase was absolutely true, as he walked us through events that paralleled others. He encourages his students to want to learn and not come to class solely because U.S. History is a required subject. I enjoyed his class because he put so much effort and enthusiasm into the subject he taught. When someone shows their enthusiasm in a subject, it influences others to become involved. Mr. Blais is one of the sole reasons I became involved with politics and United States History."
While many teachers add to their classrooms with captivating activities and lessons, Mr. Blais brings excitement to the entire school and community. His U.S. law students, for example, worked together to discover an inmate who seemed to be innocent. A few times a week, they would gather information, organize it, and try to prove their inmate's innocence. Mr. Blais even brought in his friend, a professor from UNH, and one of his law students to work on the case. Mr. Blais discussed how it wasn't just an interesting project, but something that could help students develop their creativity, organizational skills, and teamwork.
As a veteran who served in Afghanistan, Mr. Blais is able to teach his many classes about war with an insider knowledge. He has also connected with many members in the community who served as well. Every year, he hosts the EHS Veteran’s Day assembly. He invites veterans to speak to the school about service and the importance of community and communication. His U.S. History Through Film class even helped with the assembly this year.
Mr. Blais had been working on a project that interviewed veterans about their service and their life after. The project has brought the students much joy and even gained attention from the PBS station. For the last year, his students and PBS have worked together to interview veterans all over the Exeter area. They are actively working to make a documentary and book for generations in the future.
"Mr. Blais has not only changed my life, but the lives of so many students, faculty, and community members," Hauschildt said. "I wish he could get more than a plaque, but truly, I wish he could know how amazing he is to our community."