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that “history is made, and the past happens”, meaning that we add our biases and past experiences when we interpret historical documents and artifacts.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

Walking with the Washingtons


As a  lifelong learner, I think it is important for educators to continually challenge themselves by seeking out new (and unique) learning  opportunities.

I have just returned from a wonderful week at Mount Vernon, where I was accepted into their fabulous George Washington Teachers Institute Summer Residential Program.  In addition to being treated like guests of Mr. and Lady Washington, we participated in an exceptional week of multimodal education.








Each day had a theme:

  • Welcome to the History of the Washingtons
  • George Washington’s Early Years
  • Washington and the American Revolution
  • Washington and the Exemplary Farm
  • Setting Forth a Nation:  The Constitution and Presidency
  • Washington’s Legacy


and the agenda was packed full of hands-on activities, lectures from early American history experts, field trips,private tours, and living historical interpretations. We were immersed in the colonial time perioFB_20150914_08_33_31_Saved_Pictured, and it was completely A-W-E-S-O-M-E (can you tell I am excited?). I mean, how cool is it to have full access to  the grounds of Mount Vernon, and sit on the mansion’s piazza with amazing educators watching the sunrise (or the moon rise) over the Potomac, speculating what the Washingtons thought about as they enjoyed the natural beauty?



I attended week 3, and dedicated educators from Arkansas, Florida, Massachusetts, Maryland, and Ohio were the invited guests.  Each of our trips was paid for by the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association Regent from that state, and we stayed in the ladies’ quarters. One requirement of participation was that we must present the program to other educators, which I plan to do at my MCPS School Library Media Program professional day on August 19, 2015, and again at the Maryland Association of School Librarians annual conference on October 16, 2015.

WP_20150731_19_42_14_ProWhether you apply to this summer program, or one of the many others around the United States, I highly recommend taking advantage of your extended break by participating in a summer residential program!



To view pictures from the week, click here.

To view resources and my MASL presentation, click here.