Local Teachers To Participate In First 'American History' Institute

June 1, 2004
News Photo 1995Bill Barker, nationally known for his character portrayal of Thomas Jefferson at Colonial Williamsburg, will meet with the teachers June 17, then host a free ?public audience? at 7 p.m. in the Mabee Theatre in Baylor?s Hooper-Schaefer Fine Arts Center.

by Lori Scott Fogleman

More than 30 Central Texas teachers will spend three weeks immersing themselves in American history, as they participate in the first "Crossroads in American History" Summer 2004 Institute at Baylor University. The intensive professional development program for history and social studies teachers will be held June 7-25 at Baylor's new Mayborn Museum Complex, 1300 S. University Parks Dr.

The Summer 2004 Institute is one of several initiatives included in a nearly $1 million "Teaching American History" grant awarded last October to the School of Education, department of history and Region 12 Education Service Center by the U.S. Department of Education. The three-year project supports collaborations between school districts and institutions to ensure that teachers develop the knowledge, skills and commitments necessary to teach traditional American history in exciting and engaging ways.

Baylor and its grant partners will provide high-quality professional development for history and social studies teachers in China Spring, Connally, Cranfills Gap, Crawford, Kopperl, Waco and Westphalia school districts, impacting more than 20,000 students. Through "Crossroads in American History," districts will demonstrate how comprehensive professional development affects high-quality American history teaching, while students increase their knowledge and achievement in American history.

The Summer 2004 Institute will include lectures and workshops on American history and its teaching, including military history, American culture, urbanization and local history, led by Baylor faculty and nationally prominent U.S. historians. During the three weeks, the 37 Fellows will visit Baylor's new Mayborn Museum Complex, Fort Hood, the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum, LBJ Library and Museum and the Center for American History at the University of Texas at Austin, and will receive a $1,500 stipend, books and classroom supplies. Institutes also will be held at Baylor in summer 2005 and 2006.

"Faculty at Baylor University are involved in a nationwide effort to re-connect American children and youth to their historical and cultural heritage, and we are delighted to participate in this historic effort on behalf of Baylor," said Dr. J. Wesley Null, project director for the Teaching American History grant and assistant professor in the School of Education and Honors College. "We are confident that all Fellows who are involved in the Institute will return to their campuses in the fall more knowledgeable about American history, more able to teach that knowledge to students, and more excited about why this task is so significant."

Null said the program will provide teachers with content, teaching strategies, release time, mentoring opportunities and resources for the teaching of American history. It also will facilitate interaction between teachers, higher education institutions, historians, experts in pedagogy and museum professionals for an open exchange of resources and ideas.

One of the highlights of this summer's institute will be an appearance by Bill Barker, nationally known for his character portrayal of Thomas Jefferson at Colonial Williamsburg. Barker will meet with the teachers June 17, then host a free "public audience" at 7 p.m. in the Mabee Theatre in Baylor's Hooper-Schaefer Fine Arts Center.

In addition to Colonial Williamsburg, Barker has performed as Jefferson at the White House, the Palace of Versailles and throughout the United States, Great Britain and France. He has been featured as Jefferson in several magazines, including Time, People, Atlantic, Southern Living and Reader's Digest and has appeared as Jefferson in programs on ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, CNN, The History Channel and C-SPAN.

For more information on "Crossroads in American History," contact Null at (254) 710-6120 or Wesley_Null@baylor.edu. For more information on Barker's visit, contact Dr. Julie A. Sweet, assistant professor of history, at (254) 710-6303 or or Julie_Sweet@baylor.edu.

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