July 24, 2019 - Oklahoma Educators Immersed in History at Colonial Williamsburg Teacher Institute
by OFE Staff | 2019-07-29 16:59:45
OKLAHOMA CITY –Thirty-six Oklahoma educators can hardly wait to return to the classroom after experiencing a week of historical immersion into early American life at the Colonial Williamsburg Teacher Institute, held at the restored capital of 18th – century Virginia.
|Oklahoma fifth-grade teachers meet a historical interpreter portraying James Madison during their visit to the Colonial Williamsburg Teacher Institute.|
While in Colonial Williamsburg – the world’s largest living history museum – Oklahoma teachers met character interpreters of 18th-century people – from Powhatan Indians and plantation slaves to British loyalists and Founding Fathers. Educators were immersed in early American history through hands-on activities and reenactments of historical events. This marks the 27th year that Oklahoma teachers have attended the institute through a fellowship program coordinated by the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence, a statewide nonprofit that recognizes and encourages academic excellence in public schools.
Oklahoma is second in the nation, following California, in the number of teacher institute participants, with 1,044 graduates.
“My week in Williamsburg has been fantastic,” said Brooke Lee, a fifth-grade teacher at Pioneer Elementary School in Noble. “From meeting historical character interpreters and learning trades to exploring buildings, I have been immersed in the colonial history of our nation. My favorite part of the week was examining original documents in the special archive collection and exploring original structures.”
Lee said she feels better prepared to help her students understand the lives of everyday people who lived in the colonies and to help students “connect their lives today with historical moments that shaped our nation.”
This summer’s Oklahoma participants included 27 fifth-grade teachers and nine eighth-grade educators. Fifth-grade teacher participants, listed by school district, are Myriah McVay, BEAVER; Pam Norris, BEGGS; Jannean Thompson, BERRYHILL; Lecia Hopkins, BRIDGE CREEK; Gabrielle Figueroa, BROKEN ARROW; Alicia Mitchell, CHEROKEE; Jamie Spradlin, CLINTON; Tina Green, ENID; Jennifer Shearer, FRIEND; Beau Keener, JENKS; Cheryl Smith, LUKFATA; Kelli Chambers, MUSKOGEE; Monique Ratliff, MUSTANG; Brooke Lee and Skyler Smith, NOBLE; Bryan Karinshak, Janet Villani and Tiffany Wylie, NORMAN; McKenzie McCall, JOHN REX CHARTER SCHOOL, OKLAHOMA CITY; Haley Nelson, OWASSO; Susan Barnes, PAWHUSKA; Shawnacie Tresler, PURCELL; Monica Hiller, PUTNAM CITY; Wendy Sheets, TULSA; Stephanie Harris, WEATHERFORD; and Jourdan Bustos and Taryn Ellis, YUKON. Teresa Potter, a teacher at OAKDALE Elementary School in EDMOND, was selected by the Colonial Williamsburg Teacher Institute to serve as peer facilitator for the fifth-grade Oklahoma delegation. She met daily with teachers to discuss interactive teaching techniques and help develop creative lesson plans based on their experiences.
Eighth-grade teacher participants, listed by school district, are June Sindelar, ADA; Brandy Baldwin, ARDMORE; Justin Ennis, BROKEN ARROW; Sean Dooley, CHOCTAW-NICOMA PARK; Justin Shaw, DICKSON; Brent Mahan, LAWTON; Dennis Paul Butler, OKLAHOMA SCHOOL FOR THE BLIND, MUSKOGEE; Sarah Drake, RUSH SPRINGS; and Rhonda Cegielski, VERDIGRIS.
Sarah Drake, who teaches U.S. history at Rush Springs Middle School and High School, said the Colonial Williamsburg Teacher Institute was the best professional development experience she has attended in her 26-year teaching career. “Our group debated voting for independence in the very chamber when the Virginia Burgesses voted to join the independence movement,” she said. “We were privileged to meet several interpreters of historical figures, including Martha Washington; French Revolutionary war hero Marquis de Lafayette; Nat Turner, who led a slave rebellion; and Jenny Joseph, a slave woman.
Drake said she looks forward to sharing personal stories and applying lessons she has learned in both middle school and high school classes. The Colonial Williamsburg Teacher Institute provides participants with interactive teaching techniques and skills to become mentor teachers who can assist 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.
Nine Oklahoma eighth-grade teachers were
ADA – June Sindelar teaches eighth grade at Ada Junior High School.
Justin Shaw, a resident of Ardmore, teaches eighth-grade history and science at Dickson Middle School.
BEAVER – Myriah McVay teaches fifth grade at Beaver Elementary School.
NORMAN – Bryan Karinshak teaches fifth-grade social studies and science at Jefferson Elementary School.
YUKON – Jourdan Bustos of Oklahoma City and Taryn Ellis of Yukon teach fifth-grade at Lakeview Elementary School.