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July 3, 2007

CW takes Teaching American History conference to Louisiana

Seventy-five Louisiana social studies teachers will have the opportunity to attend a two-day conference on Teaching American History July 16 and 17 when Colonial Williamsburg’s education outreach goes on the road. Dr. and Mrs. Frank C. McMains, through the McMains Family Foundation of Baton Rouge are providing financial support for the conference, which is being held in partnership with the Louisiana Resource Center for Educators (LRCE), Louisiana Trust for Historic Preservation and Magnolia Mound Plantation.

During the conference, the teachers will step back in time and meet people from the past while they learn historical content and engaging classroom instructional strategies. Participants will receive a CD-ROM with lesson plans, facsimile artifacts and documents and a subscription to one of Colonial Williamsburg’s distance learning programs, the Emmy-award-winning Electronic Field Trips, broadcast live to classrooms across the country during the school year.

Colonial Williamsburg’s professional development programs have expanded from the week-long summer Teacher Institute in Williamsburg to include one- and two-day seminars to bring Colonial Williamsburg’s program to teachers across the country. During the 2007-08 school year, Colonial Williamsburg presents 10 conferences in nine states – Alabama, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Louisiana, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Texas.

Each conference focuses on the use of primary sources and active learning strategies that make history relevant and exciting for students. Teachers learn how to use role playing, demonstrations, simulations and analysis of primary sources to make history come to life. One of the highlights of the two-day conference in Baton Rouge is the character portrayals of the Marquis de Lafayette, a French aristocrat who fought for the Americans alongside George Washington, Lady Dunmore, the last Virginia royal governor’s wife and Catherine Rathell, an 18th-century milliner. Colonial Williamsburg’s Mark Schneider portrays Lafayette, and Darci Tucker portrays Dunmore and Rathell. In a theatrical tableau, the character interpreters discuss the views on liberty each might have had.

This is the second year the McMains have provided support for the local conference. Mrs. McMain’s fifth-grade history teacher so inspired her that she majored in history at the University of North Carolina. She first visited Colonial Williamsburg when her husband was stationed at Oceana Naval Air Station in nearby Virginia Beach, Va. The McMains have returned many times and have sponsored teachers to attend the week-long onsite Teacher Institute since 1994.

“We are fortunate to have Dr. and Mrs. McMains to help support history and social studies education in their community. Teachers will now have the resources to make the study of the American Revolution and the founding of our nation engaging and relevant to students,” said Colonial Williamsburg’s Tab Broyles, director of teacher professional development. “The understanding of United States history is important to the development of our students as citizens and future leaders,” added Broyles.

As a result of this conference, Colonial Williamsburg staff and the McMains hope 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.

Cost to teachers who attend the conference is $45 for LRCE members and $60 for non-members, which helps defray the cost of meals, tour and reception at the Magnolia Mound Plantation in Baton Rouge. Space is limited. For additional information or registration, contact Dawn Vitteri at or Tracy Smith at, or call 1-800-449-1908. The two-day conference will be held at 7305 Florida Blvd., Ste. D, in Baton Rouge. For more information about Colonial Williamsburg’s Electronic Field Trips and other educational resources, visit

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. Williamsburg is located 150 miles south of Washington, D.C., off Interstate 64. For more information or reservations, call toll-free 1-800-HISTORY or visit Colonial Williamsburg on the Internet at

Media Contact:
Barbara Brown
(757) 220-7280