Last year, when Longleaf Elementary School teacher Beverly Blackmon applied for the White House History Teacher Institute – a week-long educational experience offered by the White House Historical Association – she was put on a wait list.
This year, Blackmon has been selected as one of only 60 teachers from around the country to take the trip, which involves learning all about White House History – from the evolving role of the First Lady, the art of diplomacy in the Executive Branch and the role of the White House as a living museum.
“I feel really honored to be selected,” said Blackmon, a third-grade EXCEL teacher at the elementary. “Most of the teachers that have been selected are high school teachers, so I feel really proud that I’m one of the only elementary teachers that will be there.
“I’ll be able to collaborate with teachers from around the country and at different grade levels at this workshop, and be able to bring that back to my school at Longleaf.”
The 60 teachers will be split into two groups of 30. The first group will attend the White House History Teacher Institute from July 8-12, while the second group, featuring Blackmon, will attend from July 22-26.
The institute will take place from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. each day, mainly at the White House Historical Association’s David M. Rubenstein Center for White House History, a block from the White House. Teachers will have the opportunity to visit historic sites, get introductions to new educational resources and technology, and learn about White House history from historians and former White House staff.
Educators will also have access to classroom tools created by the White House Historical Association, including Alexa Skill and the White House Experience mobile app.
“The association’s education department seeks to create materials that can easily mix, match, and integrate into many different classroom environments,” said Whitney Hayne, director of education for the White House Historical Association, in a statement. “By exploring the stories of the White House and our resources during the teacher institute, participants gain a unique lens that can freshen up their existing curriculum and engage their students in new ways.”
Because her students have always been interested in American presidents, Blackmon feels the curriculum will be perfect to bring back and integrate into her studies at Longleaf.
“As far as what they know about history, a lot of time it revolves around presidents – little anecdotes about presidents in the White House, their pets and interesting things they’ve done,” Blackmon said. “So I’m interested in having more of a depth of knowledge to bring back to students about the presidents.
“The one thread that connects all the presidents is that they lived in the White House, except of course for Washington, so it’ll be interesting to bring back stories about the White House.”