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May 31, 2011

Colonial Williamsburg Teacher Institute Makes History Education Relevant for Teachers Across U.S.

Each summer, Colonial Williamsburg Teacher Institute provides teachers from across the United States with an intensive seven-day immersion into early American history. Teachers return to their schools with a new understanding of how we became Americans, new historical content and methods of engaging students in learning, and a renewed enthusiasm for teaching.

Teacher Institute celebrates its 22nd anniversary in 2011 with 18 separate sessions – eleven for elementary teachers, six for middle school teachers and one session for high school teachers. The program helps teachers meet national and 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 Historical content and teaching strategies for the different sessions are geared to the appropriate grade levels and curriculum.

“Teacher Institute doesn’t just give the teachers historical content,” said Tab Broyles, director of teacher professional development. “We provide them with new methods for teaching history and ways in which to make the stories of our past relevant to students. This year, teachers will receive an online subscription to the new Colonial Williamsburg Teacher Community where they can access lesson plans, primary sources and other materials for use in their classrooms. Teacher Institute attendees also receive facsimile artifacts and documents and a subscription to one of our award-winning Electronic Field Trips.”

During the week-long session, teachers are up early and follow a full schedule well into the evening, sharing new ideas, brainstorming 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.

Tuition for this summer’s program is $1,900. Tuition includes the week of programs, educational materials, meals and lodging in the Historic Area. While some teachers pay their own way, others receive 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. Since 2001, Colonial Williamsburg has partnered with more than 115 school districts to apply and receive United States Department of Education Teaching American History grants. These grants support American history education for students in elementary, middle and high school.

Colonial Williamsburg Teacher Institute began with 44 fifth grade teachers from two southern California school systems. Today, there are more than 6,615 teacher graduates of the program from 49 states. This year, Teacher Institute welcomes the first two participants from North Dakota, making it all 50 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 school districts each year.

For more information about attending the 2011 Colonial Williamsburg Teacher Institute, visit .

The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is the not-for-profit educational and cultural institution dedicated to the preservation, interpretation and presentation of the restored 18th-century Revolutionary capital of Virginia. Colonial Williamsburg is committed to expanding its thought-provoking programming through education outreach on site and online. Purchase of Colonial Williamsburg products and services supports the preservation, research and educational programs of the Foundation. Philanthropic support by individuals, corporations, and foundations benefits the educational mission of The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.

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. For more information about Colonial Williamsburg, call 1-800-HISTORY or visit Colonial Williamsburg’s website at

Media Contact:
Barbara Brown
(757) 220-7280