Local Teachers Visit Fort Lee Museums

FORT LEE, Va. (July 2, 2009) – Teachers from local schools traveled to Fort Lee and surrounding historical areas recently as part of the “History Underfoot: Community Teacher Institute.”

The unique partnership between the U.S. Army Quartermaster Museum, the U.S. Army Women’s Museum, City of Petersburg Museums, Petersburg National Battlefield and the Historic Hopewell Foundation, Inc., is designed to improve students understanding by explaining the knowledge base of classroom teachers and creating excitement in the use of alternative teaching methods. This year marks the third year the CTI has been enhancing history in classrooms.

Fifteen teachers from Chesterfield County, Hanover County, City of Hopewell, Prince George County, City of Richmond and Sussex County toured historical areas in the surrounding areas and participated in historical learning activities that will help with their grade level curriculums. At each site, subject matter experts modeled and demonstrated different teaching styles and ways to integrate SOLs.

Tracy Bradford, who is the program director CTI, said the target window is for fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh grade teachers.

“Over four days we took them on field trips to all of our different sites,” Bradford said. “We taught them both the history of the sites and also ways to teach the history featured at those sites.”

During the 2008-2009 school year, more than 5,000 school children visited the museums at Fort Lee on school sponsored field trips. Bradford said she hopes the teachers who came for the CTI will return later with their students.

“We’d love it if they came back with their classes for field trips,” Bradford said. “If not, we sent them away with the tools to make history come alive in their classrooms.”

In at least one instance, a student field trip led to teacher participation in this year’s CTI. Four special education teachers from Matoaca Middle School in Chesterfield County visited the museum with their students last year and returned for the CTI.

Evelyn Didlake was one of four teachers from the Matoaca Middle School who attended this year’s event. She said she had learned much to help her teach history to her students.

“It has been an incredible hands-on experience,” Didlake said. “We have learned a lot.”

Funding for programs such as the CTI are often provided by grants. This year’s CTI was funded entirely by the John Randolph Foundation through a grant written by the Quartermaster Foundation.

More information about the educational programs available at Fort Lee’s museums is available at www.qmmuseum.lee.army.mil or www.awm.lee.army.mil.