Published Online: April 1, 1998

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American history teacher Tracey Fallon is not a British soldier, but he dresses like one from time to time. In fact, depending on the history lesson, his 6th and 7th graders at Glen Landing Middle School in Gloucester Township, N.J., can never be quite sure who will walk through the classroom door when the school bell rings.

The 52-year-old teacher has been bringing history to life for his students since he began teaching nearly 30 years ago. Mr. Fallon says he's not sure why he began dressing up in historical clothing, but it does help to spur debates and discussions.

"I guess it's kind of the ham in me," he says. "Plus, I have a captive audience." And, he says, the students don't seem to mind. "At this point, they don't even blink an eye."

Mr. Fallon, who teaches five classes a day, usually has his students do plenty of reading and background research before he comes to school as a particular character. The students then use what they have learned to discuss a subject with that character.

Most recently, he stepped into class playing the role of a Colonial sailor dressed in pantaloons, striped knee socks, and a black sailor hat, ready to discuss the Boston Tea Party.

"I enjoy developing a character, and it's fun playing a particular point," Mr. Fallon says. Through this,"the students are able to look at different interpretations," he says.

Mr. Fallon limits his dress-up days in the classroom to six or seven classes throughout the year, but the costumes he wears for his students have another use.

He also uses them as a part of his hobby, as a member of a Revolutionary War re-enactment group.

"I'm fortunate--it blends right in and spills into what I do professionally," he says.

Though he now teaches American history, Mr. Fallon claims a character from ancient times as his favorite role: Julius Caesar on the Ides of March.

--ADRIENNE D. COLES acoles@epe.org

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