EDGAR (WAOW) - When you walk into Colin Hanson's classroom in Edgar, the energy is obvious.
This busy father and husband has been awarded a Jefferson Award for his efforts to bring history to life through those who lived it.
He believes those history-makers can help influence the future.
"You can learn a lot from textbooks and the internet but you cannot replace first-hand accounts," Hanson said.
After reading a book written by a survivor of the genocide in Rwanda, Hanson set out to bring her to central Wisconsin.
"You cannot replace someone who can tell you this is what I did and this is what I experienced. This is what I saw," he said.
Her presentation laid the groundwork for a new venture called "A Walk in Their Shoes."
About a dozen school districts in central Wisconsin are working on the projects and Hanson hopes to make the program statewide, Hanson said.
A wall at Hanson's school is now dedicated to history-makers the program has brought to the area since 2007.
Members of the Little Rock 9 who fought segregation and members of the World War II Ghost Army who deceived the Nazi's are among the groups that have traveled to Wisconsin to tell their stories - thanks to Hanson's effort.
"He is really an inspiration. He challenges me to be a better teacher and to think outside the box," said fellow teacher Rob Hughes, who nominated Hanson for a Jefferson Award. "It is enriching for our community and I am very proud to have him as a friend."