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OFE News Release

Oklahoma Educators Immersed in History at Colonial Williamsburg Teacher Institute

July 31, 2005
-- Twenty-six Oklahoma teachers walked in the footsteps of America’s patriots and British colonists during the Colonial Williamsburg Teacher Institute held recently in the restored capital city of 18 th-century Virginia.

The Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence selected 25 educators to receive all-expense paid trips to the summer institute in Williamsburg, Va., as well as $100 stipends for classroom materials. In addition, participants received a one-year subscription to the Colonial Williamsburg Electronic Field Trips, which combine Internet activities and live television broadcasts to help bring the Colonial Williamsburg experience to the classroom.

Participants, listed by school district, are: Andrea L. Stewart, BETHANY; Zella L. Ruleford, BIXBY; Amy L. Mayhue, BROKEN ARROW; Vonda Vinyard, BYARS; Cindy Howard, CHANDLER; Barbara A. O’Neill, CHEYENNE; Linda Hogan and Dorinda Williams, CHOCTAW-NICOMA PARK; Shawna Long and Donna M. Thornton, JENKS; Shantell Tanner and Christine Lang, MIAMI; Donna Collier and Amy Parker, MIDWEST CITY-DEL CITY; Valerie Cook, MOORE; Connie Copenhaver and Julie Pippin; MUSTANG; Debbie Tiller, OKLAHOMA CITY; Jon M. Wilson, PAWHUSKA; Denese Cheatwood, SEMINOLE; Amber Hembree, SHAWNEE; Andrea Rains, STILLWATER; Leonardo DeAndrade, TULSA; and Amy Bacon, UNION. In addition, Sheila Hastings from Rosary Catholic School in Oklahoma City participated.

Teresa Potter of MOORE Public Schools was selected by the Colonial Williamsburg Teacher Institute to serve as peer facilitator for the Oklahoma delegation. Potter, who is a Teacher Institute alumna and coordinator of Oklahoma’s Colonial Day at the Capitol, met daily with the group to discuss teaching techniques and develop creative lesson plans based on their experiences in Williamsburg.

While at Colonial Williamsburg -- the world’s largest living history museum -- Oklahoma teachers met character interpreters of 18 th-century people and were immersed in early American history through hands-on activities and reenactments of historic events. The week’s lessons were built around the theme “Becoming Americans.” Participants also visited Jamestown, the site of the first permanent English colony in America, and spent a day at Yorktown visiting the battlefields where the Continental Army forced the British to surrender.

“Being in Williamsburg made history come alive for me and instilled a hunger to learn more,” said Amy Parker, a fifth-grade teacher at Traub Elementary School in Midwest City. “Experiencing history through the eyes of the actual colonists helped me understand the struggle to become Americans and the freedoms that we enjoy because of what they did.”

Zella Ruleford, a teacher at Bixby’s Brassfield 5 th and 6 th-Grade Center, said she too felt like she had been transported to colonial times, “from walking on the ground at Jamestown and going onboard a boat like the one that brought over the first English settlers in 1607; laughing and playing the games that colonial children enjoyed; participating in a debate between the citizens of the colonies on whether to vote for independence from Britain; listening intently to stories from the slaves; enjoying the gaiety of colonial dancing; and finally, experiencing somber moments of reflection while visualizing the young British soldiers throwing down their weapons at Surrender Field.”

“I will forever be a better citizen and grateful for the experience at Colonial Williamsburg, as my teaching is touched and enhanced by all I observed and participated in there,” Ruleford added. “No one can walk away from the Colonial Williamsburg Teacher Institute and look at being an American in the same way.”

This marks the 13 th year that the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence has coordinated Oklahoma’s participation in the Colonial Williamsburg Teacher Institute. Funding is provided by individuals, corporations and foundations, led by Oklahoma City businessman Edward C. Joullian III, who has served on the board of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. He also is a trustee of the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence, which recognizes and encourages academic excellence in Oklahoma’s public schools.

For more information, contact the Foundation for Excellence at (405) 236-0006.

Brenda Wheelock,
OFE Communications Director
(405) 236-0006; e-mail