North Trail principal wins Lincoln fellowship

Steven Geis visits Abraham Lincoln’s homelandphoto

Students of North Trail Elementary: Your principal wants to see you.
He wants to tell you about the law of the land and the men who wrote it. Principal Steven Geis wants to talk to you about Abraham Lincoln and the U.S. Constitution.

Already a fan of U.S. history, Geis spent a week in June in Springfield, Ill., studying Abraham Lincoln through the Horace Mann Fellowship program. He toured the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum and listened to lectures by library staff and Lincoln experts.

“It was an intense crash course on Lincoln,” Geis said. “I’m already thinking about ways I can share it with my students. I’m excited to share the fellowship with the other educators and students.”

He was one of 50 teachers and school administrators in the country who won a trip to study Lincoln with the fellowship program.

“Most people know the last five years of his life, but this course focused on the beginning of Lincoln,” Geis said. “He was a very complex man. It was a tragic loss of life.”

He learned about Lincoln’s childhood; his work on the riverboat, as a lawyer and as a state legislator; and his eventual death, while visiting in his tomb.

One highlight for Geis was when he spent a day looking through historical documents.

“I held in my hand a letter written by Frederick Douglas and Civil War generals,” Geis said. “To be able to read those primary sources was enlightening. I looked at the first draft of the Gettysburg Address.”

He also witnessed a re-enactment of what would have happened had Lincoln not been assassinated.

“They were speculating on how things would be different,” Geis said. “He suspended writ of habeas corpus. Would he have been impeached? I don’t know. It was fascinating.”

The experience was provided by Horace Mann, a multiline insurance company focusing on educators’ financial needs.

Geis was also a Fulbright Scholar in 2008 when he visited Japan.