This past summer Link’s history teachers were making Link history! Ms. Hannah-Marie Charles and Ms. Shauntia Harrison are the first in the school’s history to be accepted into the highly competitive Gilder Lehrman Institute’s Teacher Seminars, one of the country’s premiere summer intensive programs for teachers of American History. Ms. Charles, who teaches grade 7, had the opportunity to explore the Founding Era through the lives of George Washington, Alexander Hamilton and James Madison at New York University in New York, NY, from July 31-August 6, 2016. Ms. Harrison, a Link alumna (’04) and 8th grade teacher, studied The Great Depression and World War II at Stanford University in Palo Alto, CA, from June 19-25, 2016. Link is honored to have two Link teachers complete seminars within this prestigious program, and happy to be able to provide such opportunities for growth for our faculty. Funding for Link’s teachers to attend the seminars was made possible through the generous supporters of The Gilder Lehrman Institute and Link Education Partners.
When Link learned about the summer program from the Charles Hayden Foundation, one of Link’s long-time supporters and a funder of The Gilder Lehrman Institute, both teachers responded with the same urgency and enthusiasm they bring to their history classrooms each day. In the final months of the school year, Ms. Charles and Ms. Harrison were busy with lesson planning and teaching as well as completing assigned readings in preparation for their seminar week.
Each teacher brings a unique perspective and context to teaching U.S. History which makes for a robust two-year U.S. history program at Link. They both desire to foster in their students a love for history and appreciation how events of the past have a lasting impact on our present and future.
Ms. Charles has loved history since she was a young girl. She has shared that in the Caribbean, where she was raised, there is a rich culture of storytelling that makes it difficult not to appreciate the stories of the people and events that came before us. She feels that she has a unique opportunity to foster in her students her same passion for history as it is their first experience of digging deep into America’s past. She applied for the seminar in hopes of gaining resources to do just that. As for the week-long seminar she attended, taught by noted historian Richard Brookhiser, Ms. Charles stated, “I really learned home to appreciate primary sources and how to implement them in the classroom so students will benefit. As part of the seminar, I developed a lesson plan around a primary source – in this case Washington’s Farewell Speech – that I will incorporate into my classes in October. Using primary sources has the potential of making history more alive for students.” For Ms. Charles, the reason for applying for the intensive was accomplished.
An alumna of Link (’04), Ms. Harrison’s passion for history was sparked at Link when her 8th grade history teacher, Mr. Silver, brought the “Roaring Twenties” to life. She applied for the seminar with the hope it would build on her undergraduate and graduate studies and arm her with ways to foster in her students the same love for history that she experienced at Link. The facilitator of the Stanford program was David Kennedy, American Pulitzer Prize-winning historian, who made history “come alive.” Ms. Harrison stated,” What an amazing program! It was great to work with people who love what I love! This experience reassured me…that teaching is what I am to do. And what I learned will help me be a better teacher.”
The Gilder Lehrman Institute is a NYC-based organization devoted to the improvement of history education in all fifty states through its continuing education programs for teachers, exhibitions, events and online archives. One of The Gilder Lehrman Institute’s signature programs is Teacher Seminars, week-long summer seminars hosted at colleges and historic sites across the United States and abroad. Each seminar offers educators an in-depth study of an era in U.S. history through daily discussions with eminent historians, visits to local historic sites, and hands-on work with primary sources. Upon returning from the seminars, both Link teachers expressed excitement to bring what they learned into their classrooms this year and their eagerness to re-apply next year to immerse in other eras of study.