Members of the second cohort of the Museum’s WWII Summer Teacher Institute—30 middle school and high school educators—spent the last week in New Orleans studying the war in Europe with historian Donald L. Miller, PhD. Each teacher was provided a Museum-created curriculum guide in exchange for a commitment to share its content and the lessons they’d learned with other teachers in their hometown. So far, those lessons have been shared with more than 1,000 teachers by members of the Institute’s inaugural class—Team Pacific, studying World War II in the Pacific with author Richard B. Frank—who recently returned from Hawaii where they completed their year of participation in the program. Team Europe will reconvene next summer for a week of study in Normandy, France.
Members of Team Europe filed daily dispatches about their experiences at the Institute. Here’s a Day Five report from Brittany Klein, a high school teacher from Northport, New York:
As our last day began at the Summer Teacher Institute at The National WWII Museum in New Orleans, we couldn’t help but feel bittersweet about our experiences. We felt this way because our time here had been nothing short of outstanding and we were not ready to leave but were excited to bring new ideas and strategies to our classrooms across the United States.
Our day started with a tour of the Historic New Orleans Collection in the French Quarter and moved to our last session with Donald L. Miller, PhD. We discussed the morality of war and how important the continual study of history is to our society. We focused on how we can help our students understand how history has played out and how controversial decisions are made in times of war. This is particularly important for teachers to understand and introduce to our classrooms because we live in a period in which war is different than it has been in the past.
Lastly, our cohort was invited to a panel discussion of WWII veterans moderated by Dr. Miller. The program started with the touching documentary He Has Seen War about the experience of veterans returning home from World War II. Then veterans Leo Terrebonne, Bowdre McDowell, Steve Ellis, and Ralph Hopkins made us laugh and cry as they shared their unique WWII experiences. I hope that each and every teacher attending that panel will bring back this experience and share it with their students and colleagues.