Theresa McCormick, Associate Professor in the College of Education’s Department of Curriculum and Teaching, has been selected from a pool of more than 300 applicants to participate in the Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources Summer Teacher Institute for the week of August 3-7, 2015.
Each year, the Library of Congress provides the opportunity for a carefully chosen group of K-12 educators (and, in McCormick’s case, K-12 teacher educators) to attend one of its five teacher institutes in Washington, D.C.
During the five-day program, participants work with Library education specialists and subject-matter experts to learn effective practices for using primary sources in the classroom, while exploring some of the millions of digitized historical artifacts and documents available on the Library’s website.
McCormick’s session is a special Civil Rights Institute. Activities will focus on items in the collections that support teaching and learning about civil rights struggles throughout American history. The primary sources will be items from the Library’s exhibition “The Civil Rights Act of 1964: A Long Struggle for Freedom” (www.loc.gov/exhibits/civil-rights-act/). Also, the Rosa Parks collection will be featured during the week.
“I am very excited about being selected for this wonderful opportunity,” McCormick said. “The Rosa Parks collection has just been donated to the Library so I will have the opportunity to work with that before it is digitized.”
Along with the College of Education’s Dr. Deborah Morowski, McCormick directs a Library of Congress-sponsored institute on the Auburn campus that helps Alabama social studies and history teachers develop meaningful curricula for their classes.
“Dr. Morowski and I won the Library of Congress grant last year,” McCormick said. “It enabled us to host this very useful gathering on our campus last spring, and we will meet again in the fall. We focused previously on American history and this year we will work on state history, so Civil Rights and the Rosa Parks collection could not be more timely. My goal on the trip to Washington wi
l be to develop a curriculum that incorporates the new holdings from the Rosa Parks collection for our teachers here in Alabama.”
McCormick is a passionate advocate for the importance of public education and developing great classroom teachers. She also loves the opportunity to be in Washington since it contains so many important places and historical collections.
“I always try to work with our teachers on the Holocaust,” she said. “It is important for them to be able to get that idea over to their students and seriously study the question of whether something like that could ever happen again.”
When she is in Washington she tries to find time to visit the Holocaust Museum, which she says is one of the most powerful experiences in the world
“The way that museum is organized and presented makes it almost impossible not to feel the power and the horror of that historical event. And you cannot fully experience it without coming to grips with the terrifying consequences of human action and inaction, and to question whether anything like that could happen again. Great teaching wrestles with the great questions, and that is one of them.”
To be chosen for this highly competitive opportunity, McCormick had to apply for one of the very few K-12 teacher educator positions.
“We will be in the Capitol Hill Hotel, right across from the Library of Congress, so for me this is like a kid getting to go to Disney World!”
McCormick also notes the strong Alabama connection in this year’s session on Civil Rights.
“So many of the most important Civil Rights struggles took place right here in Alabama,” McCormick noted. “These struggles still shape our state and country, and our College has a strong commitment to diversity, so I am also excited about the opportunity to expand my understanding in this area.”
The Library of Congress, the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution, serves the public, scholars, Members of Congress, and their staffs. Many of the Library’s resources and treasures may also be accessed through the Library’s website at www.loc.gov.
Theresa, congratulations on this great honor, and we look forward to learning more about your week in our Nation’s Capitol!