I get so emotional
“I didn’t know what to think when I got here on Sunday and an organizer of the conference greeted me with a hug and tears in her eyes, I knew right from the start this wasn’t going to be another ‘Nerd Camp’ ” a teacher from Philadelphia explained to me on the eve of the final day of the Richard Bartol, Jr. Educator’s conference held this week “but now I know why she was teary eyed , all the hard work that was put in was coming to reality and I found out about Rick Bartol…”
As an educator , there are many conferences and workshops put on by various groups and organizations that can be attended. Teachers get many emails and glossy post cards encouraging them to make the trip to places like Philadelphia, San Diego, or Las Vegas to find out about the latest trends in their field. This week, I was at a conference like no other I had ever been to. I found myself in the car riding home feeling like Barb Sanders, one of the conference organizers, did on the first day and I might have even got a little emotional myself.
What was the Bartol Conference?
A s part of the 2011-2015 commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War and the Gettysburg Foundation’s Education 150 initiative, a select group of 50 Middle School Social Studies and Language Arts educators were invited to Gettysburg for a conference, made possible by a generous donation from the David Bruce Smith Education Initiative of the Robert H. Smith Family Foundation and the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation. The conference helped educators to connect students to the relevance of the Civil War and confront challenges facing educators in engaging their students with the people and places of the Civil War within the context of Social Studies and Language Arts, and address the curriculum needs of teachers and the active learning needs of students.
All week long…
The teachers , who hailed from schools in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Maryland, spent the jam packed days:
- taking field trips on the battlefield with guides like Rich Kohr, Gary Adleman, & Dr. Carol Reardon,
- hearing key note speakers such as Ta-Nehisi Coates, Dr. Scott Hancock, Dr. Nina Silber, & Dr. Peter Carmichael
- attending workshops presented by various Civil War scholars , bloggers, and educators
Click here to read bios of speakers and presenters
The attendees also spent time with a mentor/master teacher corps ( of which I was fortunate enough to be asked to be a member of).
These mentor teachers worked with the attendees in the areas of literature, writing , technology, and ” basic” training all related to teaching the Civil War.
So what now?
The Bartol Conference attendees received curriculum, books and other materials for use in their classroom and school district. They also created their own “trunk” of Civil War related items , such as books, uniforms, and other period items to use in their classrooms. These educators will also be working to share their knowledge with colleagues at their home districts. The Gettysburg Foundation ,its generous donors, and the rangers at Gettysburg NMP will now begin the process of working with the teachers to bring their students to Gettysburg on a unique field trip – not just a simple bus tour – but a historical experience that will leave a lasting impression. The attendees will also get to nominate some of their own students to attend a student version of the Bartol Conference next summer which, in conjunction with Gettysburg College and the Gettysburg Foundation, will focus on the development of leadership skills and provide a glimpse of college life for promising students.
This week was the culmination of over a year’s worth of hard work for the National Park Service and Gettysburg Foundation, and the hard work paid off in a conference experience like no other I have ever been to. On a personal note, I am not ashamed to say I got a little teared eyed on the way home. When I thought about the man who the conference was named for, Richard Bartol Jr, it got to me a little bit (I’d like to blame that on lack of sleep, but…). Rick was a teacher and park ranger at Gettysburg for many years who has left a legacy that has carried not only to his family and friends, but also to educators like he was, who now will have the opportunity to bring their students to a place , Gettysburg, that was close to Rick’s heart.
For information on future conferences check the Gettysburg Foundation Web site
Resource for teachers
Click for a web site with links to information on field trips, the Civil War, lesson plans, and more