Huzzah for Martha Washington & 18th Century Women!

Summers are the perfect time to immerse oneself in  professional development, and I have taken full  advantage opportunities presented to me this summer.

I am grateful and thankful to have been selected a second year in a row to participate in the George Washington Summer Teacher Institute at Mount Vernon – this one with a focus on Martha Washington & 18th Century Women.

We experienced the Revolutionary Period from the women’s point-of-view, from enslaved women to Piscataway Indians to fashionable ladies to female Army soldiers.  In addition to the women themselves, we learned about their clothing, artwork, needlepoint, food preparation, farming, gardening, and music through examination of primary and secondary sources. We learned that “history is made, and the past happens”, meaning that we add our biases and past experiences when we interpret historical documents and artifacts.

As participants of the institute, we stayed in the Mount Vernon Ladies Association quarters, and were treated as if we were special guests of the Washingtons, eating most dinners in the Mount Vernon Inn, and being allowed to stroll the property early in the morning, and later in the evening.

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(Want to see more pictures?  Click here)

Professors, authors, and other scholars that immersed us in outstanding 18th Century life and culture presentations included:

  • Carol Berkin (Martha Washington & Women’s History Methodology, MW & Republican Motherhood, Navtive American Women)
  • Patricia Brady (Martha Washington’s Early Life, MW & the American Revolution)
  • Cynthia Chin (The Communicative Power of Women’s Clothing in 18th Century America)
  • Amy Hudson Henderson (Gender and Material Culture)
  • Kathryn Silva (Enslaved Women in the 18th Century)
  • Jennifer Van Horn (The Coming of the Revolution)
  • Holly Mayer (Women and the American Revolution)
  • Piscataway Tribe (Matriarchal Culture)
  • Cynthia A. Kierner (Women in Contested Spaces in Revolutionary Virginia)
  • Lydia Brandt (Mount Vernon Ladies Association & the Legacy of the Washingtons)

Mount Vernon staff & other experts:

  • Jessie McCleod (Oney Judge & Oral HIstory)
  • Jackie Jecha (Teaching with Documents, Teaching with Place, Teaching with Objects, Republican Motherhood & the 21st Century)
  • Dean Norton (Strolling the Pleasure Grounds and Gardens)
  • Susan Schoelwer (Women’s Work: Needlework & Education)
  • Michelle Lee (Tour of Library)
  • Mary Thompson (Republican Motherhood & the 21st Century)
  • Lynn Price (George Washington and Women, Republican Motherhood & the 21st Century, The First, First Lady – Martha & the Presidency)
  • Deborah Colburn (Tour of Pioneer Farm)
  • Brenda Parker (Defining the Women’s Sphere)
  • Neal Millikan (George Washington’s Correspondence with Women, Republican Motherhood & the 21st Century)

Living Interpreters:

  • David and Ginger Hildebrand (Music of George and Martha Washington’s Time)
  • Darci Tucker (Loyalist women, Deborah Sampson & Teaching with Biography)
  • Brenda Parker (Enslaved Servant Caroline)

Martha Washington and the Women of the 18th Century resources

I cannot speak highly enough of this summer residential institute, and I encourage every K-12 educator with an interest in Colonial America to apply for the program.  Your experiences will far exceed your expectations!

There are many summer teacher institutes offered around the country and around the world. Some that have been recommended to me are:

Huzzah for life-long learning!

Scholastic Reading Summit for Educators

Forget the pool, the beach, or a romantic summer getaway … I have again taken full  advantage of professional development opportunities presented to me this summer!

  • Represent MSEA as a delegate at the week-long 2016 NEA Convention (✓)
  • Help revive Library, Information Literacy, and Technology special interest caucus (✓)
  • Attend week-long class Mentoring for All: Strategies, Activities, and Assessment (✓)
  • Attend  Scholastic Reading Summit for Educators (✓)

I am thankful to have discovered the Scholastic Reading Summit for Educators, and especially thankful that my school’s PTA graciously paid my registration fee with Scholastic Dollar$!  Muchas gracias,  Flower Hill Elementary School PTA!

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 I finally had the opportunity to meet the fabulous Mr. Schu – John Schumacher – and now understand why he has such a devoted following, and why he is the new Ambassador of School Libraries for Scholastic Book Fairs®. He’s awesome!  His book talks were full of energy and inspired me to find time – to make time — to sit and read as many of the  the more of the wonderful children’s books available, so that I can give authentic and inspired book talks to my students, too.  I was also pleased to discover that I am not the only person to smell the inside of a new book, or thrill in revealing the book under the dust cover! Thanks, Mr. Schu for the reminder that the goal of libraries is not to get back the books, but to get back the readers!!

Donalyn Miller had wonderful things to say about school librarians and the wonderful world of literature. “We are not simply teaching the readers our children are; we are reaching the readers they will become!”  I was thrilled to discover that we received a copy of her book, Reading in the Wild   and will be incorporating many of her suggestions for developing life long readers.   I’ve also become a fan of the Nerdy Book Club blog of which she is one of the four facilitators.   Thank you, Donalyn, for your wisdom.

Nancie Atwell, author of The Reading Zone (among others) offered an inspired discussion of reaching each student where they are, and how to nurture joyful reading, even with the most seemingly difficult-to-reach kids.  Thank you, Nancie (and daughter, Anne Atwell Merkel) for sharing your love of literature and reading.

Sara Pennypacker, author of middle grade novel Pax, was the keynote speaker.  Pax is the story of Peter and his pet fox Pax, who are separated when Peter’s father goes into the military to serve during the war, and their journeys to find each other again.   Pax Book Discussion Guide .  To listen to her NPR interview, click here.

Pax was illustrated by Caldecott Medal winner Jon Klassen (click here for more information about his artistic inspiration.)

I left the July 14th event filled to overflowing with ideas for books to read (and share) and unique ways in which to encourage my students to develop a love of the written word – such as hanging book talk mini-posters in the girls’ and boys’ bathroom stalls!  Check back for a future post that will include pictures!

Still to come this summer:

Love, love, love being a lifelong learner!!

Unite. Inspire. Lead. 

I just completed an exciting week serving as a delegate for the Maryland State Education Association (MSEA) the National Education Association (NEA) Representative’s Assembly in Washington, DC. There were more than 7500 educators working together to build strong public schools.

Highlights of the week were the impassioned speeches of the ESP of the Year, Doreen McGuire-Grigg, and Teacher of the Year, Johana Hayes, and the President of our union, Lily Eskelsen García.

“Continue growing, guiding and loving your students because you may have the next president, supreme court justice, doctor, lawyer, business owner, performer, volunteer, activist, or national teacher of the year sitting in your classroom.”  Johana Hays, Teacher of the Year, NEA RA 2016

It was fascinating to know that I was part of the decision-making process of the NEA.

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I, along with about 20 other educators, helped to revive the Libraries, Information Literacy, and Technology (LIT) special interest caucus, whose statement of purpose is to:

Increase the awareness and promotion of library media programs, information literacy and technology integration within the National Education Association.

Address and impact N.E.A policies that relate to library media, information literacy, and technology educational issues.

Provide opportunities for library media, information literacy, and technology educators to expand their professional awareness by sharing ideas and solutions to problems.

Provide opportunities for networking and professional growth.

(Updated 7/7/16 by NEA RA 16 LIT Caucus)



We encourage all media specialists, reading specialists, technology specialists, and other interested people to join us by visiting here . We’ll be connecting virtually throughout the school year and face to face in Boston for the 2017 NEA Annual Meeting. We hope you’ll consider joining us to reach NEA’s vision “to create a public school for every student” by joining our special interest caucus!

Hope to hear from you soon!

ESP of the Year: We Are the Secret Weapons in School and Student Success

Be Your Students’ Hero, Teacher of the Year Tells RA Delegates

Remarks As Prepared for Delivery by NEA President Lily Eskelsen García to the 95th NEA Representative Assembly