Keli E. Hileman, 2004 Teacher of the Year

This award-winning educator touts NEC's VT465 projector for its easy-to-operate, lightweight portability.

Keil E. Heilman, II
2004 Kansas State Teacher of the Year

The Challenge

Keil Hileman has a clear vision of how technology can make an impact in secondary education. Hileman has been teaching six through eighth grade social studies for a decade at Monticello Trails Middle School in Shawnee, Kansas. He also is the recipient of the 2004 Kansas Teacher of the Year, and one of four finalists for the 2004 National Teacher of the Year, the nation’s top teaching honor announced by President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush at the White House. He travels around the country giving inspirational talks about the power of effective teaching and inspiring the creative genius in our nation’s children, and was recently hired by the United States Department of Education to work with the Secretary of Education.

After years of collecting historical artifacts, such as a 3000-year-old Chinese coin, an antique cash register and a nickel and cast iron stove, Hileman established a class called Museum Connections. The unique, personally-designed curriculum uses artifacts, hands-on lessons, Internet searches, video clips, and student-created projects to teach social studies lessons. Hileman also developed a class museum, containing thousands of artifacts procured by Hileman and donated by students, parents and members of the community. Soon Hileman was considered a motivator for higher-level learning, and created an educational bond for the Kansas City community.

“My passion is setting students' minds ablaze with a love of creative learning and the power of knowledge,” said Hileman. “It is the teacher's responsibility to determine what it will take to enable students to explore the world they live in, empower them with useful learning and excel by applying that knowledge to achieve educational and personal goals in their everyday lives.”

Hileman was challenged with how to supplement his teaching with visuals to inspire imagination and propel students out of the classroom and around the world to experience diverse cultures, historic wars and epic global events. How was he going to change lives with old textbooks, a chalkboard and a $200 budget?

The Solution

NEC donated its VT465 portable, easy-to-operate, lightweight projectors to the 2004 U.S. State Teachers of the Year. The technology dramatically changed Hileman’s – and his students’ – lives, and has had a great impact on the local community.

Now, instead of antiquated tools, Hileman and his students use NEC’s portable projector to bring the classroom to life. Vivid and clear images capture the interest of curious students eager to learn and share their knowledge.

As Hileman travels around the country, he brings to life the real stories behind the museum artifacts. Instead of passing around the 3000 year old Chinese coin to an audience of 300 people, Hileman can broadcast the piece for the entire audience to experience and share the Chinese culture and history together. And, instead of quoting a movie about the Civil War and retelling how it fits into his discussion, Hileman can show a touching film clip to the audience, and engage them in ways a simple verbal discussion just can’t do.

"Keil offers the best 'hands-on' teaching methods I have ever seen in the thirty years I have taught," a fellow teacher commented. "His room is a plethora of historical information, artifacts, and stimulating materials that peaks student’s interest in the topic they are covering. At the end of each unit, he ties it all back to the present day by showing a film that accentuates the time period."