Douglas Ullman, Jr.

American Battlefield Trust Hosts 19th National Teacher Institute to Advance History Education

Nearly 200 K-12 educators from across the nation to convene in Raleigh for career-development conference devoted to encouraging history education

(Raleigh, N.C.) — Nearly 200 K–12 educators will soon convene in Raleigh, N.C., on July 11–14 for the American Battlefield Trust’s annual National Teacher Institute, the second-largest such gathering in the event’s 19-year history. While there, they will share in three and a half days of workshops, battlefield and museum tours and guest lectures designed to give educators the tools to more creatively and engagingly teach about the pivotal conflicts of America’s first century.

“The American Battlefield Trust believes that teachers have the power to inspire students and a new generation of historians,” Trust president James Lighthizer said. “The National Teacher Institute will give teachers the tools, techniques and approaches to cultivate interest and engagement with U.S. history.”

Participants representing 36 states and the District of Columbia will learn firsthand at key sites associated with the American Revolution and the Civil War, coming in close contact with the “real stuff” of history — artifacts, images and documents that offer true tangibility to past events. In addition to instructional enrichment for the upcoming school year, attendees will earn continuing education units and certifications through Virginia Tech University.

Guest speakers include award-winning author Robert M. Dunkerly, director of education at the American Civil War Museum Stephanie Fitzwater Arduini and Christopher Mackowski, the editor-in-chief and co-founder of the Emerging Civil War blog and book series. Keynote speaker Dr. Edward Ayers, professor and president emeritus of the University of Richmond and 2013 recipient of the National Humanities Medal, will examine the different explanations for the Civil War throughout America, where those explanations come from and how they should be presented to students.

Among the many targeted presentations at this year’s institute are several by award-winning educators eager to share their techniques; Robert Rinehart, a two-time Trust award recipient, will conduct a workshop on exploring written documents using the five senses, while James A. Percoco, a 2011 National Teachers Hall of Fame inductee, will present on how he integrates primary sources and film into the classroom using the Civil Rights Movement as a case study. Tours, which help educators learn strategies to maximize their own time away from the classroom, include visits to Revolutionary War sites like Guilford Court House; Civil War battlefields at Bentonville and Averasboro; and sites related to the Civil Rights Movement in Durham.

The quality of the institute is borne out by the perennially glowing endorsements of attendees. “I really appreciate the Trust and what you do to make these trips affordable,” said 2018 participant Eric Froese. “The friendships I have made over the years are also very important. Our group of institute friends keeps growing each year.”

Through its National Teacher Institute, the Trust helps educators learn how to bring history to life for their students. The Trust serves educators faced with shrinking budgets by providing no-cost curriculum and resources including maps, animated videos, biographies, quizzes and more to help teach history. The Trust also benefits students directly through its Field Trip Fund, which — over the past four years — has enabled 28,000 students from 37 states to visit close to 100 historic sites associated with the Revolutionary War, War of 1812 and Civil War, including Antietam, Fort McHenry, Gettysburg, Independence Hall and Valley Forge.