On September 15, the National Humanities Alliance produced a virtual briefing that discussed NEH funding for diverse histories and civics in K–12 education. Since 2018, NHA has worked with over 20 NEH-funded professional development programs for K-12 educators to survey their impacts. Cecily Hill, director of community initiatives, was joined in discussion by four of the project directors we’ve worked with: Alice Nash, Rolando Herts, Stacey Greer, and Ray Locker. The event was a fruitful opportunity for congressional staff and others to hear about the data we’ve collected on these programs over the past 3 years that attest to their tremendous value, and to hear directly from project directors about how these programs offer crucial professional development to our nation’s educators, illuminate diverse histories, and support civic education in our nation’s classrooms.
Over the past 18 months, NHA has worked with 14 project directors of NEH-funded summer seminars, institutes, and landmarks workshops. These residential, thematic professional development programs help K-12 educators access engaging and up-to-date humanities scholarship and immerse them in the histories and cultures of American regions. Together, we have surveyed participants in these programs, documenting their impact on teachers’ classroom practice. In addition to pre- and post-program surveys, we followed up with teachers a year later, asking about how they had incorporated their work in the programs into their praxis.
NHA is currently working with 14 NEH-funded summer professional development programs for teachers to document their impact. Though our final follow-up survey is still several months away, pre- and post-program surveys shed light on what drew educators to the workshops and what they found most valuable while there. The responses have been enlightening and have helped us understand how NEH-funded programs are fulfilling teachers’ needs and filling gaps in the curricula.
The National Endowment for the Humanities’ (NEH) supports summer programs across the country for K-12 educators, covering history, literature, religion, politics, art, and culture through various themes connected to local histories and cultures. This summer, we partnered with 14 programs to document their impact on educators and, in turn, our nation’s schoolchildren. Data collection will continue until summer 2020 in order to understand how educators are implementing what they learned. However, this year’s pre- and post-program surveys demonstrate these programs provide teachers with a renewed excitement for content, classroom materials that promote connections with students of diverse backgrounds, and a sense of community with educators across the country.
This summer we’ve been reaching out to scholarly societies to learn about how they are communicating all their disciplines have to offer to prospective students. This is part of our Study the Humanities initiative, through which we are collecting and sharing strategies to help faculty, administrators, and scholarly societies make the case for studying the humanities as an undergrad. We’ve noticed that several scholarly societies have had great success with academic competitions that introduce students to their disciplines long before they arrive on campus.
The Delta Center for Culture & Learning at Delta State University plays a critical role in bringing the history and culture of the Mississippi Delta to the public. In addition to hosting an annual NEH Landmarks Workshop for School Teachers, “The Most Southern Place on Earth,” the center runs the International Delta Blues Project and manages the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area (MDNHA). NHA recently completed a survey of the Delta Center’s Landmarks Workshop that explores the program’s longlasting impact on participants. Through qualitative and quantitative data, the results demonstrate that the program rejuvenates teachers, helps them incorporate creative and engaging pedagogies into their classrooms, and encourages continued professional development and strong professional networks.
For over 50 years, the NEH has gathered K-12 teachers—over 90,000 to date—from across the country together every summer for intensive workshops which immerse them in diverse subjects and introduce engaging teaching methods. Through our NEH for All initiative, we’re conducting research that demonstrates how these NEH workshops help keep effective teachers engaged in the profession despite the many challenges that have made teacher retention a national issue.
In advance of our annual meeting, we’ve published major updates to NEHforAll.org. The site now hosts dozens of new profiles that highlight humanities programs from Hawai’i to Maine. New features, including interactive maps and pop-out facts and figures, highlight the geographic range of the NEH’s impact and data we have collected in recent months.
As we celebrate Black History Month, it is important to remember not only storied civil rights leaders, but the countless courageous “foot soldiers” who made the Civil Rights Movement happen. Since 2004, the NEH and the Alabama Humanities Foundation have supported a summer workshop, Stony the Road We Trod, which introduces K-12 teachers to surviving veterans of the movement. In doing so, the workshop ensures that their stories—of extraordinary courage by ordinary people—will reach students in classrooms across the country for years to come.