To put it simply – The Henry Ford is the reason I became a history teacher! As an 8-year old boy, I visited Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village with my family in the 1970s. I was immediately hooked by the awesome power of the historical artifacts, buildings and stories. Suddenly, history came alive. I saw the past not just as dates and events in a stuffy textbook, but as a link to where we are right now, and where we are going in the future.
When I learned about The Henry Ford’s Teacher Fellow Program, it was a no-brainer for me to apply. I hoped that my years of experience as a public high school history teacher would be enough to convince The Henry Ford to accept me into the program. Fortunately, it was.
Living almost two hours away from Dearborn, Mich., I wound up making close to 10 round-trips during a six-month time period. The funny thing was, I hardly noticed the drive! Often times I spent the drive brainstorming ideas and different plans to help The Henry Ford really connect with teachers in the classroom.
The Henry Ford is a treasure chest full of so many awesome ideas, programs, primary sources, artifacts, and stories that teachers can use each and every day in their classrooms to make history come alive. History is just that – a STORY! The story is ongoing and never ends. When teachers can make real, concrete links to the past that are hands-on, suddenly students begin to grasp the emotions behind the events – people, who are just like them, experienced history with emotions that are real and identical to those we have right now. The materials at The Henry Ford are just that powerful!
One of our projects was raising awareness to teachers on the “outside” who cannot make it to Dearborn with their classes. So, why not bring The Henry Ford to them? We created a series of videos (I have never shied away from an audience!) to help teachers realize all that The Henry Ford has to offer for in-class use. Teachers can now access so many materials and programs online to use in their own classrooms. It truly is awesome.
Another project was the Digital Curator Kit. We wanted to have something hands-on for students of all ages to utilize while both in their classrooms and during a field trip. It places the responsibility squarely on the shoulders of the students and allows them to find artifacts that relate to an area of their choosing. In a way, the students are now making their own personal museum!
The Henry Ford’s Teacher Fellow Program allows a group of teachers, who would not otherwise work together, to collaborate in a way that benefits not only themselves, but other teachers as well. It empowers them to have a lasting effect, together, on the future students and teachers coming to, and using, the resources of The Henry Ford.
The Teacher Fellow Program was an opportunity for professional development unlike any other. Teachers collaborate on-site at America’s Greatest History Destination. We are given the unique ability to be hands-on, behind the scenes, at The Henry Ford. We are given access to every possible resource we could imagine. While that can seem overwhelming at first, once the purpose and direction of the Fellows becomes clear, there is no limit to the impact the group can have on the hundreds of thousands of students and teachers who use The Henry Ford each year.
I have made contacts with teachers from both Ohio and Michigan that I wouldn’t have met. We can now collaborate, as Fellows, on future projects in our classrooms and continue the work we have done as 2013 Teacher Fellows at The Henry Ford.
I am truly looking forward to Graduation Day on Oct. 26. To see the finished product of our hard work – and to show others for the first time our vision – is very exciting.
Over the past several months I have become a member of a large group of professionals with the dedication to bring history to life for everyone of any age. I am so honored to be a part of The Henry Ford’s family. The little 8-year old boy has now turned a passion for history into a life-time dedication of helping others see that the past is a link to the present and future. You could easily say, I have always been a part of The Henry Ford – or better yet, it is a part of ME!
Todd Edmond is a member of The Henry Ford’s 2013 Teacher Fellow Program. He hails from Tiffin, Ohio and teaches U .S. History and AP U. S. History at Tiffin Columbian High School.
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