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Area teachers visit Holocaust Museum day before fatal attack

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When 14 local history teachers visited the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. this past week, they could not have imagined that the following day an anti-Semitic gunman would appear at the entrance to the museum and fatally attack a security guard.

The teachers were in the capital as part of a Volunteer State Community College and Wilson County Schools federal grant program.

“We were walking from Congressman Gordon’s office over to the Dirksen Senate Office Building when we began to see police cars blocking off streets around the National Mall,” said Lebanon High School teacher Teresa Bates. “Suddenly the air was filled with helicopters and we realized immediately that something had happened. My cell phone began to ring. Our families in Tennessee had heard about the shooting at the Holocaust Museum on television and feared that we were there. They were calling to make sure we were all right.” 

The teachers participated in a week of intensive study about the Civil Rights era in American History. In addition to visiting the well-known Washington, D.C. monuments, they spent a day in class at the Library of Congress, as well as the National Archives. The teachers also spent a day of study at the Smithsonian Museum of American History and visited the home of Frederick Douglass. During their stay in the nation’s capital, they met with 6th District U.S. Rep. Bart Gordon and U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander to discuss federal educational initiatives.

The teachers included: Mary Lee Burkett of Elzie Patton Elementary in Wilson County; Lynn Burnette of Greenbrier High School; John Isabell of Dekalb County High School; Virginia Laudeman and Barbara Marks of Watertown High School; Donna Means of Walton Ferry Elementary; Nancy Perry of Watt-Hardison Elementary; Elizabeth Hodges and Delise Sanders of Madison Creek Elementary, all in Sumner County; Radford Spivey of Trousdale High School; and Nina Vastola, Patricia Walker and Bates of Lebanon High School.

They are among more than 100 teachers who have participated in professional activities offered by TEACH, the Tennessee Educators’ Active Colloquia for History.  TEACH is an initiative funded by a grant from the U.S. Dept. of Education for the purpose of improving teachers’ content knowledge in American history. Led by Volunteer State Community College Professor Carole Bucy, this program has held workshops, lectures and in-service activities for American History teachers.

For more information about TEACH, call Bucy, project director, (615) 476-8551.

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