Presenters, Guides & Historians Biographies
2022 National Teacher Institute
Dr. Samantha Cavell (Thursday Keynote)
Samantha Cavell is the Assistant Professor in Military History at Southeastern Louisiana University. She teaches both undergraduate and graduate courses in American and Global Military History, including courses on the history of the U.S. Navy and sea power. Her publications include Midshipmen and Quarterdeck Boys in the British Navy 1771-1831; chapter contributions to The Battle of New Orleans Reconsidered; U.S. Naval Academy’s New Interpretations in Naval History; Biography and History in Film; From Across the Sea: North Americans in Nelson’s Navy, as well as numerous journal articles. A native of Australia, she received her MA from Louisiana State University, and her Ph.D. from the University of Exeter, Center for Naval and Maritime Studies in the UK. She is currently working on a book project about the Royal Navy’s role in the final year of the War of 1812.
Melvin Morris (Friday Keynote)
Medal of Honor recipient Melvin Morris entered the Oklahoma Army National Guard in 1959 and later requested to join the active Army. He became one of the first Soldiers to don the 'green beret' at the command of President John F. Kennedy, Fort Bragg, N.C., in 1961. Morris volunteered twice for deployments to Vietnam.
Melvin Morris is being recognized for his valorous actions on Sept. 17, 1969, while commanding the Third Company, Third Battalion of the IV Mobile Strike Force near Chi Lang. Then-Staff Sgt. Morris led an advance across enemy lines to retrieve a fallen comrade and single-handedly destroyed an enemy force that had pinned his battalion from a series of bunkers. Staff Sgt. Morris was shot three times as he ran back toward friendly lines with the American casualties, but did not stop until he reached safety.
The Distinguished Service Cross was awarded to then Staff Sgt. Morris in April 1970 for extraordinary heroism during this 1969 battle. After receiving the award, he returned to Vietnam the same month for his second tour. He retired at Fort Hood, Texas in May 1985. Morris currently resides in Cocoa, Fla.
Morris received the Medal of Honor, March 18, 2014; Bronze Star Medal with one Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster, Purple Heart with one Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal, Army Commendation Medal with "V" Device and one Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster, Army Good Conduct Medal Silver with one Loop, National Defense Service Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Vietnam Service Medal with one Silver Star, Non-commissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon with Numeral "3", Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon with Numeral "4", Combat Infantryman Badge, Master Parachutist Badge, Expert Marksmanship Badge with Rifle Bar, Special Forces Tab, Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Bronze Star, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal with "60" Device, Vietnam Parachutist Badge, Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation with Palm Device, Republic of Vietnam Civil Actions Honor Medal Citation, First Class.
Ben Raines (Saturday Keynote)
Ben Raines is an environmental journalist and filmmaker. A longtime newspaper reporter, Raines has won more than two dozen awards for his coverage of environmental issues and natural wonders in Alabama and on the Gulf Coast, and coauthored several peer-reviewed papers published in scientific journals. He wrote and directed The Underwater Forest, an award-winning film about the exploration of a 70,000-year-old cypress forest found off the Alabama coast. His underwater film work has appeared in documentaries on the Discovery Channel and National Geographic TV. Raines is the author of The Last Slave Ship: The True Story of How Clotilda Was Found, Her Descendants, and an Extraordinary Reckoning. Ben is a graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts with a degree in filmmaking, and is a U.S. Coast Guard-licensed captain, giving tours of the Mobile-Tensaw Delta and Alabama’s barrier islands. He lives with his wife and son in Fairhope, Ala.
Presenters, Guides & Historians
A graduate of Michigan State University and Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania, Garry Adelman is the award-winning author, co-author or editor of 20 books and 50 Civil War articles. He is the vice president of the Center for Civil War Photography and has been a Licensed Battlefield Guide at Gettysburg for 25 years. He has conceived and drafted the text for wayside exhibits at ten battlefields, has given thousands of battlefield tours at more than 60 sites and has lectured at hundreds of locations across the country including the National Archives, the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian. He has appeared as a speaker on the BBC, C-Span, Pennsylvania Cable Network, American Heroes Channel, and on HISTORY where he was a chief consultant and talking head on the Emmy Award-winning show Gettysburg (2011) and Blood and Glory: The Civil War in Color (2015). He works full-time as Chief Historian at the American Battlefield Trust.
Mark Bielski is a historian, author, and Director at Stephen Ambrose Historical Tours. He is also the host of History with Mark Bielski, a podcast where he discusses history from ancient to modern times with experts in their field, with special attention to the Civil War and WWII. He leaves the textbooks behind and delves into the characters, backstories, and often the intrigues that drove events throughout history.
Mark’s the author of numerous books including, A Mortal Blow to the Confederacy: The Fall of New Orleans, 1862, and American Civil War: Divided Poles in a Divided Nation.
He received his Ph.D. in History at the University of Birmingham, England as well as an M.A. and B.A. in English from Georgetown University and Tulane University respectively.
Mark lives in New Orleans, where he enjoys the city’s culinary, cultural, and musical riches on a daily basis.
Sarah Kay Bierle
Sarah Kay Bierle graduated from Thomas Edison State University with a BA in History, works in the Education Department at American Battlefield Trust, and volunteers as managing editor at Emerging Civil War. She has spent years exploring ways to share quality historical research in ways that will inform and inspire modern audiences, including school presentations, writing, and speaking engagements. Sarah has published three historical fiction books and her first nonfiction book, Call Out The Cadets: The Battle of New Market, is part of the Emerging Civil War series.
Mike Bunn has spent the entirety of his career in the public history field. Mike is the director of Historic Blakeley State Park. He has worked with museums, archives, historical societies, and commissions prior to leading Blakeley. He is the author of The Assault on Fort Blakeley: The Thunder and Lightning of Battle.
Dr. Philip Carr
Philip J. Carr is an archaeologist specializing in the prehistory of the Southeast United States. Since joining the USA faculty in 1999, he has engaged in the study of the rich cultural heritage of southwest Alabama. His research particularly involves understanding prehistoric hunter-gatherer lifeways and stone tool technologies. His recent research has included simulating the formation of prehistoric lithic assemblages, expanding an organization of technology approach, and an examination of the stone tool assemblage.
Dr. Carr received his B.A. degree from the University of Louisville in 1988 and M.A. (1991) and Ph.D. (1995) from the University of Tennessee in Anthropology. He enjoys teaching and working with students. He is the faculty advisor for the Anthropology Club and is currently working with several students on research projects.
Scott Corcoran grew up in Mobile and went to Davidson High School. He then earned a Bachelor’s degree in History and a Master’s degree in Education from the University of South Alabama. He is a former History teacher in the Mobile County Public School System. Currently, he serves as Assistant Curator of Education at the History Museum of Mobile. In this role, he has delivered tours to thousands of area school children and spoken to numerous community groups on a variety of topics related to Mobile’s history. He lives in Saraland with his wife and three children.
Dan Davis, Education Manager at the American Battlefield Trust. He is a native of Fredericksburg, VA where his love for the Civil War began on childhood trips to local battlefields. Dan is a graduate of Longwood University with a bachelor’s degree in Public History. Dan has worked as a Ranger/Historian at Appomattox Court House National Historical Site and the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park. He is the author or co-author of numerous books and articles on the Civil War.
Codie Eash serves as Director of Education and Museum Operations at Seminary Ridge Museum and Education Center in Gettysburg, and is a 2014 graduate of Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania, where he earned a bachelor degree in communication/journalism and held a minor in history. In addition to museum tours and interpretation, he lectures for National Park Service sites, historical societies, Civil War roundtables, educational groups, and other organizations. He has published articles and essays in local newspapers, regional magazines, and national history journals. Codie is a founding contributor to the collaborative project Pennsylvania in the Civil War; writes book reviews for Civil War Monitor; and maintains the Facebook blog "Codie Eash - Writer and Historian," which primarily focuses on the Civil War era.
Ana Edwards is the Education Programs Manager at the American Civil War Museum within the Edward L. Ayers Center for Civil War and Emancipation Studies. She supervises the education outreach and onsite programs for K-12 public, private, and home school learners, and teacher professional development programs. In her five years at ACWM she has worked on visitor engagement, interpretive planning, and interpretive training for visitor engagement and education staff. Ana has been a Richmond-based public historian and community organizer since 2005. She holds a Master’s degree in History from Virginia Commonwealth University. She was the recipient of the inaugural VCU History Department Alumni Achievement Award in 2021 for her contributions to public history and advocacy for social justice.
Dr. Ricardo A. Herrera
Rick Herrera is Professor of Military History at the School of Advanced Military Studies, US Army Command and General Staff College, at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. He is an award-winning author whose publications include Feeding Washington’s Army: Surviving the Valley Forge Winter of 1778; For Liberty and the Republic: The American Citizen as Soldier, 1775-1861; and numerous articles and chapters on American military history. He is now editing for publication a collection of letters by a US soldier who fought in the Mexican War (1846-1848) and is researching and writing a study of the 1778 and 1779 campaigns for Savannah in the American War for Independence. A graduate of Marquette University (PhD, 1998; MA, 1994) and the University of California, Los Angeles (BA, 1984), Herrera lectures in the Fleet Seminar, US Naval War College, and has been Chief, Staff Rides, Combat Studies Institute, has taught at Texas Lutheran University, Mount Union College, and Universidad Rey Juan Carlos (Madrid), and has also served as an armor and cavalry officer in the US Army.
Michael Hensinger is an educator who has been teaching students of all ages since 2011. He graduated from DeSales University with a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice, later earning his teaching certification at Kutztown University. He has experience working within the classrooms of both public and private schools, as well as collaborating with other education professionals to develop their instructional practices. While a teacher, Michael helped introduce a Geography Bee, pilot a grant-funded STEM program using the TechyKids coding platform and collaborated with other professionals to launch school and district-wide 1:1 technology initiatives. His passion for history led him to his current position as the Manager of School Programs at the Museum of the American Revolution where he is responsible for training and developing museum educators, fostering relationships with K-12 professionals and organizations, and contributing his experience to program and curriculum development. He is a board game enthusiast and novice archer. Michael currently resides in Philadelphia, PA with his wife Melissa and their rambunctious dog Fiona.
Richard Houston has been teaching high school history since 1978. He is a graduate of the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester MA. He earned his Master's Degree at Boston College and has done additional graduate work at Clark University. He has won numerous awards for his teaching including 2006 Massachusetts Outstanding Teacher of American History, Daughters of the American Revolution, 2012 Gilder Lehrman Massachusetts American History Teacher of the Year, 2019 American Battlefield Trust Teacher of the Year. He teaches all levels of US History I and US History II at Monomoy Regional High School.
Carolyn Ivanoff is a retired high school administrator and independent historian. She writes and speaks frequently on American History in a variety of formats and venues. Her book, We Fought at Gettysburg, scheduled for publication in late spring of 2022, features first-hand accounts by the survivors of the 17th Connecticut Infantry and their experiences on the greatest battlefield of the American Civil War.
Latrece Johnson, MEd, MS
Latrece Johnson enjoys teaching and learning! For twenty-two years, she has led preschool and elementary classrooms as well as tutored students in K-12. She is a graduate of Bishop State and Spring Hill colleges, both located in Mobile, AL: and of Concordia and Walden Universities. She is a wife of 28 years; mom to three sons and one bonus daughter. When not teaching, she can be found spreading thyroid awareness and participating in citizen science projects.
Jen Knutson is the assistant director of the University of South Alabama Archaeology Museum. She received her B.A. from the University of North Florida in Anthropology and is nearly finished with her master’s thesis for the University of West Florida in Anthropology, with an Historical Archaeology focus on Campbell Town, an 18th century French Huguenot colony in British West Florida. As a public archaeologist, she is a Project Archaeology master teacher and curriculum editor as well as the vice-president of the Florida Anthropological Society. She lives in Mobile, Alabama, with her husband and their two dogs and two parrots.
Dr. Chris Mackowski
Chris Mackowski, Ph.D., is the editor-in-chief and co-founder of Emerging Civil War. He is the series editor of the award-winning Emerging Civil War Series, published by Savas Beatie, and the “Engaging the Civil War” Series, published in partnership with Southern Illinois University Press. Chris is a professor of journalism and mass communication at St. Bonaventure University in Allegany, NY, and historian-in-residence at Stevenson Ridge, a historic property on the Spotsylvania battlefield in central Virginia. He has also worked as a historian for the National Park Service at Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park, where he gives tours at four major Civil War battlefields (Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Wilderness, and Spotsylvania), as well as at the building where Stonewall Jackson died. Chris has authored or co-authored a dozen books on the Civil War, and his articles have appeared in all the major Civil War magazines. Chris serves on the national advisory board for the Civil War Chaplains Museum in Lynchburg, Virginia.
Javier Martinez is a former Marine Corps Officer, having served 10 years in the Active and Reserve Forces. For the last 15 years, he has taught US History, AP US History, and Military History at a rural high school 65 miles west of Chicago. Javier is also a National Trainer for the Congressional Medal of Honor Society's Character Development Program (CDP) which uses the stories of our nation's Medal of Honor Recipients to teach youth about what it means to live the Core Values of Courage, Commitment, Citizenship, Sacrifice, Integrity, and Patriotism. The CDP is used in schools across the country in classrooms ranging from Elementary to High School.
Anne Gillespie Mitchell
Anne Gillespie Mitchell has been at Ancestry for eleven years on products including Ancestry Library, AncestryK12 and most recently the Civil War Stories Project. She has taught genealogy courses at many national conferences including NGS, FGS and RootsTech and SLIG as well as multiple online Ancestry Academy courses. Anne has a MS degree in Computer Science from Purdue University, where she also taught Computer Science for 8 years.
James (Jim) Percoco
James A. Percoco is a nationally recognized history educator with over 33 years of service to American education. The author of three previous books, his books A Passion for the Past: Creative Teaching of US History and Divided We Stand: Teaching About Conflict in US History are staples in collegiate social studies methods courses across the United States. Percoco has pioneered the combination of public education with public history utilizing public history opportunities throughout his curriculum. Thirty-six of his students have worked for the National Park Service, several who are currently in leadership positions. Many of his former students also became social studies/history teachers. A prolific speaker, Percoco demonstrates how to use historic sites and museums as adjuncts to his teaching and has modeled his approach in countless in-service programs nationally.
Pulitzer Prize-winning author and biographer David McCullough has called Percoco, “a national treasure” and Yohuru Williams has dubbed Percoco as “America’s History Teacher.”
Percoco is a Gilder-Lehrman Teacher of the Year (Virginia) and was inducted into the National Teachers Hall of Fame in 2011. He was the Trust’s Teacher-in-Residence from 2014-2018.
Robert (Bob) Rinehart
Bob Rinehart was born in York, PA and graduated from West York High School (1983). He worked in television production for eight years after graduating from High School. During this time, the station (Cable-4-York) and Bob earned several awards for Excellence in their productions. Bob has a Bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education – Social Studies from York College of Pennsylvania (1994) and a Master’s Degree in Administration and Supervision from Loyola College of Maryland (2001). He was named Preservation Teacher of the Year by the American Battlefield Trust (then the Civil War Trust) in 2004, was awarded the American Battlefield Trust Chairman’s Award in 2010, and was named the Gilder/Lehrman Maryland Teacher of the Year in 2014. Bob has volunteered for the American Battlefield Trust since 2004 for both the Summer Teacher’s Institute and the member Annual Conference. He is married to his wife Maureen, and they have five children ranging from 17 – 25 years of age.
Casimer Rosiecki is a park ranger with the National Park Service at Gulf Islands National Seashore. As a ranger, he helps people learn, explore, and connect with the natural, historical, and cultural resources along the northern Gulf Coast. Now serving at Gulf Islands, Casimer has also worked at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, Gettysburg National Military Park, and Boston National Historical Park
David Wege is the 5-8 grade teacher and principal at Trinity Lutheran School of Waucousta. Though based in Wisconsin, he has taken students several times to Civil War sites in both the Eastern and Western Theaters. The present school year will wrap up his 42nd year of teaching. He is a member of the Board of Directors for the Civil War Round Table of Milwaukee, where he is in charge of layout for General Orders, the organization’s newsletter. Dave was awarded the American Battlefield Trust’s Abroe-Carter Award in 2017. He has spoken often at round tables, conferences, and student Civil War Days at the Old Wade House in Greenbush, WI. As he looks off into the sunset of his teaching career, Dave and his wife Kay have branched into new horizons leading Civil War tours through their company Civil War Time Travelers, LLC.
Jason Wells is a teacher with Virtual Arkansas, the state distance learning program for public schools. He is in the ninth year of teaching with the program. Prior to coming to the program, Jason worked for Greenwood (AR) Schools. Over the last nine years, Jason has helped develop and design both high school and middle school U.S. History courses for Virtual Arkansas. Jason has attended teacher institutes with the American Battlefield Trust, Mount Vernon, the White House Historical Association, and Teaching American History. Jason holds a Bachelor’s degree in Social Studies and Secondary Education from Ouachita Baptist University and a Master’s degree in Educational Technology from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. Jason currently teaches AP United States History and was named the 2019-2020 Virtual Arkansas Teacher of the Year.
Kristopher D. White
Kris is the deputy director of education at the American Battlefield Trust. White is a graduate of Norwich University with an M.A. in Military History, as well as a graduate of California University of Pennsylvania with a B.A. in History. For nearly five years he served as a ranger-historian at Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park. White is the co-founder and chief historian of Emerging Civil War and is also the co-creator of the Engaging the Civil War Series, which is a partnership between Southern Illinois University Press and Emerging Civil War. An award-winning speaker and editor, White has authored, co-authored, or edited nearly two-dozen books; and he frequently leads tours in the United States and abroad.
Cheyanne Woodeardis the Education Outreach Specialist for online and onsite programs at the ACWM Historic Tredegar and White House of the Confederacy museum locations and at schools throughout the Virginia Department of Education central and eastern regions. She graduated from Longwood University in 2019 with her Bachelor’s degree in Public History. Cheyanne later served as a PASS AmeriCorps mentor for at-risk high school students in San Diego, California, and taught 7th and 8th-grade history and science for a Title l private school in Richmond, Virginia.
Charles (Chuck) Yarborough
The 2019 Organization of American Historians Tachau Teacher of the Year, Chuck Yarborough teaches history at the Mississippi School for Mathematics & Science, Columbus, MS. He has developed several award-winning, nationally-celebrated primary document research/presentation projects in Lowndes County, Mississippi, that foster critical thinking among students while also providing opportunities to contribute to the broader community’s understanding of itself and the significance of historic places in their midst.
Dr. Jodi Zeis
Dr. Jodi Zeis is currently in her twenty-fifth year in the field of education and taught every grade K–12 in a combination of general and special education. After working as a school administrator, she worked statewide, first at the South Carolina Department of Education and then for S2TEM Centers through Clemson University. She served as an assistant professor at Francis Marion University as an assistant professor in the School of Education until she relocated to Virginia, where she is now the Supervisor of Instructional Tech Coaches in Frederick County. Recently, Dr. Zeis began working as an adjunct for Shepherd University where she teaches a methods class for science, math, and social studies to pre-service teachers. She earned her Ph.D. in Teaching & Learning from the University of South Carolina and holds an Ed.S. in Administration and Supervision from the University of Virginia. Her Master’s focused on education, with a major in specific learning disabilities at Old Dominion University and a Bachelor's from Millersville University. She now resides in the mountains of Virginia with her husband, four boys, and six dogs.
Dr. Angela Zombek
Dr. Zombek is a historian of the Civil War Era United States at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington. Her first book project examined how the establishment and administration of penitentiaries influenced the administration of Civil War military prisons and shaped the identity of prisoners of war. Currently, she is working on a manuscript entitled, Stronghold of the Union: Key West Under Martial Law which is under contract with the University Press of Florida. She is the managing editor of Kent State University Press's series "Interpreting the Civil War: Texts and Contexts," and is a Copie Hill Civil War Fellow with the American Battlefield Trust.
Before coming to UNCW, Dr. Zombek taught at St. Francis High School (Gainesville, Florida) and at St. Petersburg College in Clearwater, Florida. She also has experience working for the National Park Service at Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park and at Cuyahoga Valley National Park.