Towns receive “Teaching American History Grant”

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Region – The town of Hudson and the Assabet Valley collaborative were awarded a three-year Teaching American History Grant Nov. 7 at the Epicurean Room at Assabet Valley High School.

Hudson Superintendent of Schools Nina Schlikin and the Hudson Elementary Curriculum Director Gail Webb attended the event to receive the federallyfunded grant. Webb, who is the project director responsible for obtaining and implementing the grant programs, said the grant is for nearly $1 million. Its main purpose is to off er professional development to the more than 50 history educators throughout the Assabet Valley Collaborative.

The collaborative, which consists of schools from, Berlin, Boylston, Hudson, Maynard, Marlborough, Northborough, Southborough, Shrewsbury and Westborough, is one of 122 school districts from across the country to receive the grant.

The district has applied for the grant before, Webb said, but it is difficult to get. In order to initially qualify, she said, the district needed to fulfill three qualifications: have an active partnership with a higher education institute; have an affiliation with local museums; and have a development plan of how the money would be spent.

The grant will be used mainly to support six week-long summer institutes taught by leading historians as well as several one-day historical events. The summer colloquia will off er history educators the opportunity to take courses to enhance their knowledge in specific subject areas. This summer, the tentative week-long courses will cover two subjects: the First Amendment, including religious liberty, free speech and free press; and A Forgotten History: The Slave Trade and Slavery in New England.

"We are looking to establish a culture of collaboration with the history teachers from other schools and grades, so they will share knowledge and enthusiasm," Webb said.

The second tier of the grant focuses on the community component. Webb plans to implement several community events that will bring in interesting historians for the purpose of enthusiastically educating the community about American history.

Webb said she feels that a good history education needs to be taught from grade school through high school. All of the grant programs are open to educators for all grades, kindergarten through 12.

With the statewide emphasis on MCAS scores, schools have focused on math, science and English. That will change when history becomes one of the required subject areas for high school MCAS tests, she said.

"History has really fallen by the wayside," said Webb. "I am really excited that history is going to get top billing."

Webb hopes that the grant would provide the teachers with quality training and education that would intern improve the students learning, she said.

"History can be very exciting for kids if it is taught in an engaging manner," Webb said.