Westview teacher develops historic library tool

Lisa Kallmes is a mother of three and a teacher at Westview High School who will graduate with her master’s degree in American history on May 23. (Photo courtesy Joseph Ortiz)

A mother of three who teaches U.S. history at Westview High School, Lisa Kallmes has a strong appreciate for the history of Arizona.

So, Kallmes created a library tool that will help her share that appreciation with others.

“I think I have such a love for history and love sharing that with the students and really helping them see why it matters,” Kallmes said.

Kallmes collaborated with the Arizona Research Library to create The Arizona Historic Place Names Story Map, an interactive tool that students and teachers can use to learn about the history of Arizona.

“The thing that I love about this project is that I can help students from all grade levels,” Kallmes said.

Kallmes, 35, said she has a profound passion for teaching history, but the educational field was not always her goal. When she was in high school, she had her sights on becoming an anchor reporter on the news. Her journalistic dream crashed when she interviewed a reporter as part of a project.

“When I was interviewing (the reporter), one of the questions I asked was whether she was married and had kids and she answered, ‘I don’t have time for that because of my job.’ Right in that moment I changed my mind,” Kallmes said.

Kallmes soon realized she had a passion for history and went on to attend ASU, where she majored in secondary education with a specialization in history.

She earned her master’s degree in American history at the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, which is in partnership with Pace University and will graduate Thursday, May 23.

As part of Kallmes’ capstone project, she partnered up with the State of Arizona Research Library, which is part of the Arizona State Library Archives and Public Records, and began the project in October.

The Story Map was a two-part project, Kallmes said. Before building the map, she created a digital collection of newspaper clippings named the Arizona Memory Project, which now serves as a reference to many historic places in Arizona.

The Story Map itself is a tool that students, researchers and visitors can use to learn the history behind various locations around Arizona.

“It allows people to link to different locations and get a little glimpse of what they look like, but also get a background of the history of how that location was named,” Kallmes said. “Twenty seven of the locations on the story map link back that original digitized newspaper collection.”

Ryan Ehrfurth, digital history and maps librarian, said, “This was the first time we had an intern create a collection on the Memory Project and a Story Map at the same time.”

Ryan said the Story Map is a tool that can help anybody who is interested in the history of Arizona.

“It allows people to see the diversity that Arizona has in a lot of the photos that are represented in the Story Map,” Ehrfurth said.

“Some are really old historic photos; some are modern-day photos that Lisa herself took.”

As much as this tool can help researchers and historians, Kallmes always keeps her students in mind when speaking of the Story Map.

“As you get into the older grades for high school, they can click into the locations and get the background and the history, but then they can also connect back to those primary sources,” Kallmes said

Kallmes said building the Story Map was not an easy project, with her working and raising three children. But she is proud to have created something her students can use to learn the details of the state in which they live, and she is looking forward to more people knowing about the Story Map.

“I’m happy with the project because I can put it into the hands of the public and students, and really created something that can be utilized by anybody,” Kallmes said.

For more information or to use the Story Map, visit azlibrary.gov/dazl/arizona-maps-online.