Kiracofe parlayed these experiences into a career, earning a bachelor’s from the College of William and Mary, and a master’s and Ph.D. in history from the University of Connecticut.
For the past 21 years, Kiracofe has engaged Tidewater Community College students with his stories and open-learning style. He has taught in many settings from the College of Charleston to Grand Valley State to the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.
“I approach the subject the same way, and my expectations are the same for my students, whether it’s at a university or community college setting,” he says. “At TCC, it really is college at a more intimate level. I can actually see students raise their hands and engage them. Their learning is at the center of the moment.”
“I can also give them personal attention, because our classes are small,” he adds. “My students are free to stop and ask questions, so they learn what they need to learn.”
Bringing history to life, Kiracofe tells stories related to key historical times, and then relates those stories to other themes and current times.
“I don’t have the power to make you love history, but I can ask you to take your work seriously. You don’t have to love a subject to learn it well,” Kiracofe says. “It’s my job to make you think like a historian, even if you are planning to be an accountant or biologist.”
In his free time, Kiracofe enjoys reading. His current favorite authors are F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Wallace Stegner and Colm Tóibín.
A published author himself, Kiracofe wrote “Thomas Jefferson: A Public Life, A Private Life,” part of Nova Science Publishers’ “First Men, America’s Presidents Series.” The book relates both well- and little-known facts about the nation’s third president. While most high-school graduates would recall that Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, many would not know that he claimed to dislike holding public office. Instead, he would have preferred to run his farms and enjoy his collection of more than 6,000 books, which helped start the Library of Congress.
Kiracofe is at work on his next book, this one a biography about Hugh Blair Grigsby, a historian in 19th century Norfolk. He notes, “Grigsby dealt in misinformation and on several occasions he was convinced that the Civil War was over with a victory for the South.”
Kiracofe lives in Virginia Beach with his wife and son.