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April 1, 2008

CW brings Teaching American History conference to New Mexico

Thirty-five elementary, middle and high school teachers from the Albuquerque, N.M. public school system will have the opportunity to attend Colonial Williamsburg’s Teaching American History conference, “Bringing History to Life in Your Classroom,” April 18th and 19th, 2008 at the Public Schools Annex Building, 3315 Louisiana Blvd. in Albuquerque.

During the conference, educators will step back in time and “meet” some of the historical figures who played a role in the struggle for independence in 18th-century America. Colonial Williamsburg character interpreters John Hamant and Sheila Arnold will portray Peyton Randolph, Williamsburg patriot and the first president of the Continental Congress, and Eve, one of his 27 slaves, who discuss their perspectives on liberty, slavery and the American Revolution. A British army solider will offer a contrasting viewpoint on this pivotal event in world history and describe what life was like for an 18th-century soldier fighting far from home.

The participating teachers also will be able to examine primary sources and facsimile artifacts while learning how to employ role-playing, demonstrations, simulations and analysis to make history come to life for their students. They will receive a CD-ROM that contains lesson plans, facsimile prints and documents, and a subscription to one of Colonial Williamsburg’s distance learning programs, the award-winning Electronic Field Trips, broadcast live to classrooms across the country during the school year.

The conference is the second of three planned in conjunction with Albuquerque Public Schools. The first event, held in April 2007, focused on labor in the late 17th and early 18th centuries, as well as colonial-era mapmaking and surveying skills.

“Colonial Williamsburg’s Teaching American History conference was by far the favorite professional development program our teachers attended last year,” according to Martha Fenstermacher, a spokesperson for Albuquerque Public Schools. “Several participants said it was the best such program they’ve ever experienced. We’re all very excited to welcome the Teacher Institute back this year.”

Colonial Williamsburg’s professional development programs have expanded from the week-long summer Teacher Institute in Williamsburg to include day-long seminars to bring Colonial Williamsburg’s program to teachers across the country. During the 2008-2009 school year, Colonial Williamsburg will present one-or two-day conferences in eight states – Alabama, Connecticut, Florida, Louisiana, Kentucky, New Mexico, South Carolina and Texas.

As a result of this conference, Colonial Williamsburg staff hopes teachers will return to their schools with increased historical knowledge and some new active methods of engaging students in learning – and most importantly, a new understanding of how we became Americans and our role as citizens.

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. Within the restored and reconstructed buildings, historic interpreters, attired as colonial men and women from slaves to shopkeepers to soldiers, relate stories of colonial Virginia society and culture — stories of our journey to become Americans – while historic tradespeople research, demonstrate and preserve the 18th-century world of work and industry. As Colonial Williamsburg interprets life in the time of the American Revolution for its guests, it also invites them to interact with history. “Revolutionary City®” - a daily dramatic live street theater presentation – is a 2008 Rand McNally Best-of-the-Road™ Editor’s Pick. 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 Web site at

Media Contact:
Barbara Brown
(757) 220-7280