For one week in June, thirty social studies teachers from the state of Mississippi traveled back in time to immerse themselves in the events of the late 19th century in order to bring their experiences back to students of the 21st century. At the second annual Social Studies Teacher’s Institute educators trod in the footsteps of Ulysses S. Grant and soldiers in blue and gray from Shiloh to Corinth and Vicksburg, attended lectures by some of the nation’s most renowned Civil War scholars, and were entertained by period music, presentations of Civil War artillery and museum collections from throughout the region. “Teachers are always working hard to present the best information possible to their students, and this institute provides those who teach social studies the opportunity to interact with leading historians of the Civil War and improve their effectiveness in the classroom, “ said Dr. John Marszalek, Executive Director of the Ulysses S. Grant Association.
The workshop, made possible through Parks as Classrooms funding and a partnership between the Mississippi State University Libraries, Ulysses S. Grant Association, and Shiloh and Vicksburg National Military Parks, provided educators with teaching tools and strategies to convey the importance of events that occurred nearly 150 years ago to students of today and illustrate how the outcome of these events affect their everyday lives. Superintendent John Bundy of Shiloh National Military Park stated, “The United States as we know it today began not with the Revolution of 1776, but rather the new nation that emerged from the Civil War. This year’s start of the Civil War Sesquicentennial offers us a wonderful opportunity to not only reexamine the importance of the Civil War in our nation’s history, but also to find ways to insure our students understand and appreciate its continued relevance in their lives today.” Vicksburg, Shiloh and park partners hope to continue this workshop through 2014, providing teachers with an open forum for discussion of topics pertaining to the Civil War, Reconstruction, and the beginning of the Civil Rights movement for use in the classroom throughout the commemoration of the Civil War Sesquicentennial.