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August 24, 2010

Colonial Williamsburg Teacher Institute Completes 21st Season

Colonial Williamsburg Teacher Development concludes its 21st season in 2010 with 761 teachers attending summer programming in Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Area. Teacher Institute in Early American History welcomed 403 teachers from Virginia and 31 other states across the country to one of 17 separate sessions, while 358 teachers from 12 school districts participated in three-to-five-day customized on-site workshops. Teacher Institute and the customized visits, each tailored for elementary, middle or high school, help teachers meet state history/social studies standards through on-site, hands-on immersion experiences in American history. Historical content and teaching strategies for the different sessions are geared to the appropriate grade levels and curriculum.

During the sessions, teachers arise early and follow a full schedule well into the evening, sharing teaching strategies, brainstorming ways to use historical content to help students understand their responsibilities as future citizens, and forming lifelong friendships. Teachers begin their week at Jamestown, where the docents, park rangers and interpreters at Historic Jamestowne and Jamestown Settlement provide insight into what life might have been like for the English who arrived on the shores of Virginia in 1607. The continuing archaeological discoveries of 17th-century artifacts at Jamestown dramatically demonstrate to teachers how they can use primary sources in the classroom and the powerful impact they have on learning.

The teachers also visit Colonial Williamsburg’s Great Hopes Plantation, an interactive living history site that represents how the rural middle class and enslaved Africans lived. They meet interpreters, explore the John D. Rockefeller Jr. Library, study portraits in the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum and visit the trade shops. The teachers remove worms from tobacco plants, participate in debates and courtroom trials and end their week on the battlefields of Yorktown reflecting on the sacrifices made by ordinary people for the freedoms American citizens enjoy today.

While some teachers pay their own way, others receive grants (such as the Department of Education’s Teaching American History grants) or support from donors whose passion for American history and their admiration and respect for teachers prompts them to provide the professional development for teachers in their own communities or those in need.

“I’ve been with the program since its inception in 1990, and I never tire of seeing the enthusiasm and the emotional connection with history generated by Teacher Institute,” said Tab Broyles, director of teacher development. “The all-out effort by our staff and the enthusiasm of the participants provide the motivation for teachers to return to their classrooms and inspire students who will be our future citizens and leaders.”

Spurred by a lack of student understanding of American history and the principles behind the nation’s freedoms and its government, the Colonial Williamsburg Teacher Professional Development programs began in 1990 when 44 fifth grade teachers from southern California school systems attended the first Teacher Institute. Today there are more than 6,615 teacher graduates of Teacher Institute from 49 states. Colonial Williamsburg also sponsors Teaching American History conferences around the country. These one- and two-day workshops bring the Colonial Williamsburg teaching techniques and strategies to thousands of teachers in their own school districts each year. This school year, workshops are planned in Virginia, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas and Wisconsin. In 21 years, 13,355 teachers have attended the summer Teacher Institute, participated in a customized on-site workshop or attended off-site Teaching American History conferences held in their own school district.

For more information about Colonial Williamsburg’s Teacher Institute, visit, or enjoy a five-minute video podcast about the program at

In 2010:

  • 403 teachers participated in 17 weeks of the seven-day Teacher Institute.
  • 358 teachers in 12 groups took part in customized three-to-five-day visits.
  • Total summer attendance included 761 teachers from 31 states and the District of Columbia.
  • 13,355 teachers from 49 states have attended Teacher Institute, a customized on-site workshop or an off-site conference held in their own district from 1990 to 2010.
  • Immersion visits throughout the Historic Triangle allow teachers to experience history from the first English-speaking settlement to the founding of our government and the last decisive battle of the Revolution.
  • Teacher Development programs meet state Standards of Learning.

Established in 1926, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is the not-for-profit educational institution that preserves and operates the restored 18th-century Revolutionary capital of Virginia as a town-sized living history museum, telling the inspirational stories of our nation’s founding men and women. Williamsburg is located in Virginia’s Tidewater region, 20 minutes from Newport News, within an hour’s drive of Richmond and Norfolk, and 150 miles south of Washington, D.C., off Interstate 64. For more information about Colonial Williamsburg, call 1-800-HISTORY or visit Colonial Williamsburg’s website at

Media Contact:
Penna Rogers
(757) 220-7121