Have you ever pulled the handle on a slot machine and the coins come shooting out faster than you can grab them? Suddenly you are left scrambling around the crowded casino floor trying in vain to gather your new-found wealth. …I haven’t either, but I can imagine it’s a nice problem to have.
In a way, this scenario is not unlike Ford’s Theatre in the springtime. It seems that every middle school in America closes for the months of March, April and May because all of their students seem to be in Washington experiencing the museums, monuments, cherry blossoms and T-shirt shops.
Bring on the spring!
Every day, dozens of buses deposit America’s youth at our doorstep. Jackpot! We are thrilled that so many students are able to visit Ford’s and engage in learning about Lincoln’s legacy through our interactive museum exhibits and interpretive talks and programs in the theatre. But how can we in the education department deepen the student experience? How do we share the vast resources that we have for students and teachers with more people? The reality is that we can’t possibly interact individually with everyone who comes to Ford’s.
Our answer is to go straight to the source—you. In January, we partnered with WorldStrides, an educational travel company responsible for bringing thousands of students to Ford’s Theatre each year. Members of WorldStrides’ education department joined us in Washington to help us create an interactive webinar that will be broadcast twice on Wednesday, February 26, at noon and 7 p.m. EST, to more than 4,000 teachers across the country. During the webinar (all you will need is a computer and an Internet connection) we will introduce many of the resources teachers can find on the Ford’s Theatre website. Together, we will explore the Virtual Tour, the Lincoln Assassination section of the website and teacher resources to prepare students for their visit to Ford’s. We also will introduce some of our teacher institutes and share two brand new lesson plans created by the WorldStrides education team. To register for the webinar, click here: http://dn.educationaltravel.com/emails/fords-theatre-webinar.html
Collaborating with the WorldStrides team was a great experience. The Ford’s group sales team and education staff has helped students experience Washington for years, and now that we’re coordinating our efforts with WorldStrides together, we can make the visit even richer. We are already talking about ways we can work with them to strengthen the interpretive tools used in their education guides. This partnership provides us with even more opportunities to serve the teachers and students who visit Ford’s.
Jake Flack is Associate Director for Museum Education. He develops and manages all aspects of the student visit program with a special focus on District of Columbia Public school students and teachers and oversees the summer professional development program, The Catherine B. Reynolds Civil War Washington Teacher Fellows, which brings teachers from around the country to Washington to learn about Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War. Prior to joining Ford’s in 2008, Mr. Flack taught U.S. History in the New Orleans Public Schools.