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OFE News Release

Oklahoma Educators Immersed in History at Colonial Williamsburg Teacher Institute

July 27, 2011
OKLAHOMA CITY – Twenty-seven Oklahoma teachers walked in the footsteps of America’s patriots and British colonists during the Colonial Williamsburg Teacher Institute in Early American History, held recently in the restored capital city of 18th-century Virginia.

“I felt like we were time-travelers for eight days,” said Minco resident Teresa Locke, a teacher at Bridge Creek Elementary School in Blanchard. “The teacher institute covered every aspect of the early days of our country. We visited a plantation, Jamestown Island, early government buildings and trade shops. By the time we visited Yorktown on the last day to see the field where the British surrendered, it was emotionally overwhelming after learning about the all that the colonists had sacrificed in our struggle for independence.”

Tulsa fifth-grade teacher Christopher Ware dresses up in clothing that would have been worn in the late 18th century by a wealthy member of the gentry class in Williamsburg, Va. Ware is one of 27 Oklahoma teachers who were selected by the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence to attend the Colonial Williamsburg Teacher Institute in Early American History this summer in Virginia.

The Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence selected the teachers to receive all-expense paid trips to the summer institute in Williamsburg, Va., as well as $300 stipends for classroom materials. In addition, participants received a one-year subscription to the Colonial Williamsburg Electronic Field Trip series, which combines Internet activities and live television broadcasts to help bring the Colonial Williamsburg experience to the classroom.

Participants, listed by school district, are: Teresa Locke, BRIDGE CREEK; Kellie Miller, BROKEN ARROW; Janet Hauser and Kimberly Ketchum, CANEY VALLEY; Jennifer Blalock, Joanie McDonald, CHICKASHA; Michelle Rahn and Charesa L. Robinson, CLAREMORE; Pamela Thornton, CLEVELAND; Jeri Bordine, ELK CITY; Heather Reilly, JENKS; Robin Dunn, LAVERNE; Vanna Owens, LITTLE AXE; Nancy Bradley, MIDWEST CITY-DEL CITY; Robin Dziedzic, MOORE; Ashley Rhodes, PIEDMONT; James Pratt, Linda Quanstrom and Stephanie Tester, PUTNAM CITY; Tina Berry, Bethany Bodine, Martha King-Clark, Erin Pierce, TULSA; Pamela Hamman, SHAWNEE; and Mallory Henson, SWEETWATER. In addition, TULSA teachers Christopher Ware of Dove Science Academy and Jeanne White of Metro Christian Academy participated.

Teresa Potter, a teacher at Fisher Elementary School in MOORE, 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 18th-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, which is 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.

The Colonial Williamsburg Teacher Institute provides participants with interactive teaching techniques and skills to become mentor teachers who can assist their peers and other educators to develop active learning classrooms and make history exciting for their students. Participants share strategies to improve instruction, raise literacy levels and enhance thinking skills.

“I can’t wait to share my Williamsburg experience with my students and colleagues,” said Michelle Rahn of Westside Elementary School in CLAREMORE. “My students will benefit through hands-on learning and investigating history using artifacts and primary sources. I will have the ability to access hundreds of lessons through the Williamsburg teacher website and Electronic Field Trips. I can also now give them insights on Colonial American life that aren’t printed in text books.”

This marks the 19th year that the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence has coordinated Oklahoma’s participation in the Colonial Williamsburg Teacher Institute. Oklahoma is second in the nation, following California, in the number of teacher institute participants, with more than 600 graduates. The state program was founded and supported through the fundraising efforts of the late Oklahoma City businessman Edward C. Joullian III. A trustee of the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence and former board member of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, Joullian died in 2006. Graduates of the institute now receive lapel pins and certificates designating them as Edward C. Joullian Oklahoma Scholars. Joullian’s family, along with a group of loyal donors, continues to support the program, which has transformed the way many Oklahoma educators teach early American history.

The Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence is a statewide nonprofit organization dedicated to recognizing and encouraging academic excellence in Oklahoma’s public schools. In addition to its Colonial Williamsburg programs, the foundation sponsors an Academic Awards Program, provides training and resources for new and established public school foundations, administers grants to teachers for professional development and coordinates a statewide school-based mentoring initiative.

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

(EDITORS: Oklahoma’s Colonial Williamsburg Teacher Institute participants are listed below by hometown and the cities in which they teach. Photos and quotes from individual teachers are attached, when available. If you would like to interview a local participant, contact Brenda Wheelock at 405-236-0006 for information.)

BARTLESVILLE – Kimberly Ketchum, a resident of Bartlesville, is a reading specialist at Caney Valley Elementary School.

BLANCHARD – Teresa Locke, a resident of Minco, teaches fifth grade at Bridge Creek Elementary School in Blanchard.

BROKEN ARROW – Kellie Miller teaches fifth grade at Lynn Wood Elementary School.

CHICKASHA – Jennifer Blalock and Joanie McDonald are fifth-grade teachers at Lincoln Elementary School in Chickasha.

CHOCTAW – Nancy Bradley, a resident of Choctaw, is a fifth-grade teacher at Soldier Creek Elementary School in Midwest City.

CLAREMORE – Michelle Rahn and Charesa L. Robinson teach fifth grade at Central Upper Elementary School.

CLEVELAND – Pamela Thornton teaches fifth-grade social studies and science at Cleveland Intermediate School.

EDMOND – Stephanie Tester of Edmond is a fifth-grade teacher at Coronado Heights Elementary School in the Putnam City Public Schools District.

ELK CITY – Jeri Bordine teaches fifth-grade social studies and science at Grandview 5th and 6th Grade Center.

JENKS – Tina Berry, a resident of Jenks, teaches fifth grade at Marshall Elementary School in Tulsa. Heather Reilly is a fifth-grade social studies and language arts teacher at Jenks East Intermediate School.

LAVERNE – Robin Dunn is a third-grade teacher at Laverne School.

MIDWEST CITY – Nancy Bradley, a resident of Choctaw, is a fifth-grade teacher at Soldier Creek Elementary School.

MINCO – Teresa Locke, a resident of Minco, teaches fifth grade at Bridge Creek Elementary School in Blanchard.

MOORE – Robin Dziedzic is a fifth-grade teacher at Briarwood Elementary School. Teresa Potter teaches in the SEARCH gifted and talented program at Fisher Elementary School. A 2000 Teacher Institute alumna, she was has served nine times as peer facilitator for the Oklahoma teacher delegation at the Colonial Williamsburg Teacher Institute.

NORMAN – Vanna Owens of Norman is a fifth-grade teacher at Little Axe Elementary School.

OCHELATA – Janet Hauser teaches gifted and talented, and Kimberly Ketchum is a reading specialist at Caney Valley Elementary School.

OKLAHOMA CITY – James Pratt is a fifth-grade teacher at Arbor Grove Elementary School in the Putnam City Public Schools District. Linda Quanstrom and Stephanie Tester are fifth-grade teachers at Coronado Heights Elementary School in the Putnam City Public Schools District. Tester lives in Edmond.

OOLOGAH – Bethany Bodine, a resident of Oologah, teaches fifth grade at Peary Elementary School in Tulsa.

PIEDMONT – Ashley Rhodes is a fifth-grade social studies teacher at Northwood Elementary School.

TULSA – Tina Berry, a resident of Jenks, teaches fifth grade at Marshall Elementary School in Tulsa. Bethany Bodine, a resident of Oologah, teaches fifth grade at Peary Elementary School in Tulsa. Martha King-Clark is the gifted and talented coordinator for Hoover Elementary School. Erin Pierce teaches fifth grade at Wright Elementary School in Tulsa. Christopher Ware is a fifth-grade teacher at Dove Science Academy, a Tulsa charter school. Jeanne White is a fifth-grade language arts teacher at Metro Christian Academy.

SHAWNEE – Pamela Hamman is a history teacher at Shawnee Middle School.

SWEETWATER – Mallory Henson teaches social studies and science for fourth through sixth grade at Sweetwater Public School.