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that “history is made, and the past happens”, meaning that we add our biases and past experiences when we interpret historical documents and artifacts.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.
(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)
- 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)
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!