Mary Baldwin Professor Lands Federal Grant To Improve Teaching of History

November 13, 2003

The two months that history professor Kenneth Keller spent writing a grant application have paid off in a big way.

A nearly $700,000 U.S. Department of Education grant will allow high school teachers in the Shenandoah Valley to work with Mary Baldwin professors to increase their knowledge and improve their teaching of American history. Teachers from Staunton, Waynesboro, Roanoke and Augusta County will participate in workshops hosted by Mary Baldwin faculty over three years, learning teaching skills and techniques. Keller believes that the workshops will generate “enthusiastic and convincing American History teachers.”

The grant is a part of a nationwide effort to improve the teaching of American history in schools. The grant will be used to “link together our nation’s history teachers with professional historians and other experts,” said U.S. Education Secretary Rod Paige. “Teachers who have a deep and vast knowledge of their subject are better able to inspire their students, to fully engage their minds and to imbue them with a lifelong taste for learning.”

Facilities on campus and in Staunton, Roanoke, and at the George C. Marshall Museum and Library in Lexington will be used for the workshops. The program will be working with significant Virginia historical sites such as the Booker T. Washington National Monument, Monticello, the Woodrow Wilson Birthplace, and the Frontier Culture Museum.

The benefits extend well beyond those that the high school students and teachers will receive. Mary Baldwin’s History Department will hire a historian who will assist with the workshops as well as teach undergraduate classes. The department will expand its curriculum, developing new courses. Mary Baldwin’s Master of Arts in Teaching students will gain practical experience from the program.

Several full-time and adjunct professors will take part in the workshops. Faculty from several departments, including economics, political science, art, and healthcare administration, will be involved in directing and teaching the workshops. Museum educators and other such history professionals will also be working with Mary Baldwin.

Keller says the grant will provide an opportunity for Mary Baldwin to create “dynamic linkages” with the surrounding communities.