Betsy Sanders Long, a teacher-librarian at Doby’s Mill Elementary School (DMES) who lives in Camden, recently returned from attending the Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation Civil War Washington summer teacher institute in Washington, D.C. Long spent July 7-12 attending the program sponsored by Ford’s Theatre in collaboration with the National Park Service.
The professional development program teaches educators the skills to help them include historic site field trips in their curricula and harness the power of place in the classroom, according to a Ford’s Theatre press release. Through immersive visits to Civil War-era historic sites in Washington, D.C., Long and her fellow educators learned first-hand how field trips can be used to “activate history” and how to use reflection to integrate those trips into classroom learning.
The week-long program included visits to Ford’s Theatre, the site of President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination; President Lincoln’s Cottage, the site where Lincoln developed the Emancipation Proclamation; Tudor Place Historic House and Garden, the home of a Southern sympathizer that highlights divisions even within the D.C. community during the Civil War; and a myriad of National Park Service sites, including Fort Stevens, the site of Washington, D.C.’s only Civil War battle, and Cedar Hill, Frederick Douglass’ historic home.
Long said the entire experience was “awesome.”
“I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of learning more about Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, their interactions, and Washington, D.C., during the Civil War,” Long said in an email. “The folks at Ford’s Theatre and the other host agencies did a fantastic job of helping us put locations, events, and people into perspective. This was especially helpful in allowing me to gain a deeper understanding of how these historical events have deeply affected our country moving forward.”
Long said she plans to use the knowledge she gained, primary sources and picture books with her older students at DMES to help them study the events surrounding the Civil War.
“We were excited for Betsy to join us at Ford’s Theater for Civil War Washington,” Associate Director for Museum Education Jake Flack said in the press release. “Not only did she have the opportunity to learn from museum professionals and content experts, but she also had the opportunity to create lasting connections with a network of fellow educators.”
George Washington University Assistant Professor of Curriculum and Pedagogy Maia Sheppard said that teachers who work with Ford Theatre’s education team return to their classrooms with more resources to teach history.
“Teachers … return to their classrooms with new knowledge, resources and a professional support system to implement lessons that deepen their students’ understanding of the complexity of the Civil War and its ongoing legacy and relevance to the world today,” Sheppard said.
In addition to the already mentioned sites, Long and her group of fellow teachers visited the National Mall, Newseum, National World War II Memorial, Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and the Library of Congress.