Teachers: Lisa Thyer & Chris Wendelin

Stagg VOW is a year-long, high school level English course, offered at Amos Alonzo Stagg High School in Palos Hills, IL. Students in the Stagg VOW class use oral history to collect and share out stories from the school community. Teachers Lisa Thyer and Chris Wendelin developed the course in collaboration with the VOW education team to honor the legacy of the late Mary Ogarek, a beloved Stagg High teacher.

The students studied the craft of oral history with readings from the VOW book series and other key texts like Isabel Wilkerson’s The Warmth of Other Suns  and Studs Terkel’s Working. Putting their oral history learning into practice, the students began conducting their own interviews and honing their listening, transcription, and editing skills.

Their work culminated in the publication of 111th & Roberts: Where Our Stories Intersect, a book of stories from across their school community and the students’ own reflections on the oral history process.

With some help from the VOW education team, Lisa and Chris have assembled a guide for teachers who want to replicate their model in their own classroom: Where Our Stories Intersect: An Educator’s Guide to Starting Conversations about Empathy and Outrospection. The kit contains some “greatest hits” from their lesson plans and is available for free download at the bottom of this page.

“Interviewing and making narratives for me, has extended far past VOW and into the way I handle learning about others…This class furthered my sense of empathy from teaching me to truly listen.”

—Samantha Sarli, Student in the first Stagg VOW Class


This toolkit charts a path for educators who want to conduct oral history projects in the classroom. The units cover a range of topics, including recommended readings, stepping out of the comfort zone, best practices for interviews, editing strategies, disseminating stories, and more.

The toolkit was designed to accompany Stagg’s book 111th Roberts, but educators will find many useful activities and assignments that can function independently of the book.

Each unit contains activities and assignments with explanations of how they were used in the Stagg class, as well as suggestions for how it can be adapted for your own classroom.


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Click here to order the full book, 111th & Roberts: Where Our Stories Intersect.

Learn more about collaboration and consultancy opportunities through the Voice of Witness Education Program.

See more VOW-inspired projects here.