On Monday, March 26, Gerri Nielsen, a Fillmore-Central High School English educator, learned she has been awarded a Horace Mann-Abraham Lincoln Fellowship to study the nation's 16th president. Horace Mann insurance agents Scott Wright and Michael Kacir made the surprise announcement and presentation to Nielsen in the school cafeteria. Fillmore-Central Education Association President Lane Powell also attended.

Nielsen will represent Minnesota in this year's class. She wrote in her fellowship application: "I hope to use his (Lincoln's) speeches in my English classes to show students that integrity exists in American politics, even if we have to turn to history to find it."

The fellowship program includes round-trip transportation, lodging and most meals for the weeklong institute. Ten fellowship applicants were selected via Facebook voting, based on a photo and response to an essay question. The remaining Facebook entries and entries submitted via the Horace Mann website were judged by other educators.

The fellowship program

Since 2006, Horace Mann and the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum (ALPLM) have teamed up to offer 50 teachers a fellowship each year to study the life and legacy of the president. The fellowship is open each year to any full-time K-12 teacher of any discipline in the United States. The curriculum is geared toward teachers of students in grades 4 to 12. No special knowledge of history or Lincoln is required. Fellows attend one of two, five-day sessions at the ALPLM in Springfield, Ill.

Fellows will get behind-the-scenes knowledge of the library and museum and enjoy visits to other historical sites - New Salem, Lincoln's home, Lincoln's tomb and the Old State Capitol. Fellows will also hear from experts on Lincoln's life and the Civil War era. Past topics have included a look at Lincoln the lawyer, Lincoln as president, political cartoons in the classroom, Civil War medical practices and "Ghosts of the Library."

About Horace Mann

Horace Mann is the largest national multiline insurance company focusing on educators' financial needs. Horace Mann provides auto and homeowners insurance, retirement annuities, life insurance and other financial solutions. "Founded by Educators for Educators" in 1945, the company is headquartered in Springfield, Ill.