Teacher Spotlight: Georgette Hackman, Our 2015 Summer Teacher-in-Residence

Teacher Fellows on site at Ford's.

We are excited to introduce you to our newest Teacher-in-Residence, Georgette Hackman. Georgette will be with us in Education for the month of July, sharing her expertise as classroom teacher and self-proclaimed history geek. We asked Georgette a few questions to kick off her work with us this summer.

How did you first become involved with Ford’s Theatre Education?

In the summer of 2012. I attended the Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation Civil War Washington Teacher Fellows. During this week-long professional development, I learned about the Ford’s National Oratory Fellows. This program brings teachers together from around the country to work with teaching artists at Ford’s to teach oratory with our students as a way to incorporate meaningful reading, writing, speaking and listening skills in the classroom. As soon as I heard about the program, I applied immediately. I have been a National Oratory Fellow since 2012. I can say with certainty that because of my work with Ford’s, I am more apt to take risks, to be creative in my teaching and to encourage my students to be courageous in their learning—to take their own risks. I try things that a few short years ago I would have found far too intimidating. While it is indeed work and it involves true commitment, my work with Ford’s has changed my teaching for the better.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m married with two kids, a son and a daughter. My daughter was recently in D.C. with President Lincoln’s Cottage as a participant in their Students Opposing Slavery International Summit. I have been teaching for 13 years and have taught elementary school as well as seventh-grade history in the Cocalico School District in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. I have always been a history fanatic, but I didn’t get super geeked about teaching history until the summer of 2009. Surprisingly, my amazing journey began with a negative life event. I was all set to visit Ireland with a colleague when my husband lost his job and our family was plunged into fiscal uncertainty. Obviously, the first thing that had to go was my trip to Ireland. At this point, I did something that completely changed my life forever. I Googled “free summer travel opportunities for teachers.” Not only did I find SEVERAL prospects, I was fortunate enough to attend not just one week-long session that summer, but two. The rest, as they say, is history. Since that time, I have attended approximately 15 teacher institutes sponsored by some of the most respected and prestigious historical organizations in the country. I have traveled as far away as England and I have studied about historic people and events from the American Revolution to the Civil Rights movement. The summer of 2009 was just the beginning of my transformational voyage that continues to this day.

Teachers a Ford's Theatre.

What are you most looking forward to as Ford’s 2015 Teacher-in-Residence?

As you know by now, I am a professional development junkie, so to speak. I am so excited that this summer Ford’s has extended to me an invitation to pull back the curtain and to see what it’s like to sit on the opposite side of the professional development table—to switch from being a consumer of professional development opportunities to being a provider—and all the joys, heartaches and headaches that come with it. I couldn’t be happier and while I have some apprehensions, I truly believe that my experience, knowledge and enthusiasm can help Ford’s to help other teachers, which is why I’m here.

What are your goals as the Teacher-in-Residence?

Many people have asked me “What exactly will you be doing this summer at Ford’s?” I know I’ll be engaged with many projects this summer, but I’ll start with two goals. I’d like to share my perspective on the practical applications of the Ford’s resources and professional development offerings, for elementary or middle school classrooms (because I have taught both). For the Education staff, I’ll offer my perspective on what teachers are seeking in professional development, so that Ford’s continues to offer programs that are interesting, engaging and valuable to teachers from both a personal and professional standpoint.

Teacher workshops at Ford's.

Any final thoughts?

My last goal, or hope really, is that I take time to drink in the fact that I will be spending a month working at Ford’s Theatre—“where Lincoln’s legacy lives.” No matter the tasks that lie ahead of me, I am committed to doing my very best. This opportunity is a once-in-a-lifetime gift and a dream-come-true for this history devotee.