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January 3, 2013

Batten Gift Supports History Education for Virginia Teachers

Grant from Hampton Roads Community Foundation Totals $300,000 over Three Years

Hampton Roads area teachers will benefit from the generosity of Jane Batten of Virginia Beach through a gift that supports teacher training scholarships for Colonial Williamsburg’s Teacher Institute and sponsorship of Teaching American History conferences held in the school districts.

The $300,000 grant, paid in three installments over three years, is a gift from the Batten Educational Achievement Fund of the Hampton Roads Community Foundation. Mrs. Batten, her late husband, Frank Batten Sr. and the Batten Foundation are generous supporters of education and of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.

'Colonial Williamsburg’s education outreach programs have benefited significantly from the generosity of Jane Batten and her late husband Frank,' said Colin Campbell, president and CEO of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. 'This latest gift offers teachers from the Hampton Roads region the opportunity to immerse themselves in the lessons of history and citizen involvement that took place right here in the Historic Triangle.'

The Batten gift will provide scholarships for teachers to attend Teacher Institute held in Williamsburg during the summer and will also cover the expenses for two to three Colonial Williamsburg Teaching American History conferences that will rotate among various districts in the area and eventually other Virginia school districts. These one- and two-day workshops are held during the school year and bring the Colonial Williamsburg teaching techniques to teachers in their school districts.

Colonial Williamsburg’s Teacher Institute marked its 23rd anniversary in 2012 with 16 separate sessions – nine for elementary teachers, five for middle school teachers and two for high school teachers. The program helps teachers meet national and state history/social studies standards through week-long, on-site, hands-on immersion experiences in American history. Content and teaching strategies for the different sessions are geared to the appropriate grade levels and curriculum. Today, there are nearly 7,400 teacher graduates of the program from all 50 states.

During the week-long Teacher Institute, teachers are up early and follow a full schedule well into the evening, sharing new ideas, brainstorming and forming lifelong friendships. They 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 Jamestowne 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 Historic Trades shops. They participate in debates and courtroom trials and end their week on the battlefields of Yorktown. Teachers who participate in the program consistently rank the Teacher Institute as a career-changing experience that enriches their professional careers. Each $1,900 scholarship includes tuition for the intensive week-long seminar, lodging in the Historic Area, meals, evening programs and a stipend to purchase classroom resources. The cost of transportation to Williamsburg is also provided.

Teachers or school districts interested in applying for scholarships to attend Teacher Institute or schedule a Teaching American History conference should email or call (757) 565-8417 for more information.

Media Contact:
Barbara Brown