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Mr. Harms' NEH Travels

posted Sep 15, 2015, 10:18 AM by School Publications   [ updated Sep 17, 2015, 7:31 AM ]
            This year marked the eighth time that our wonderful and eccentric history teacher, Mr. Toby Harms, has journeyed across the country in search of greater knowledge.  The program that has allowed him to travel to places such as Wyoming, New York, Kansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Washington, and now Ohio, is called the National Endowment for the Humanities or NEH.  This program accepts thousands of applicants for one workshop, but only 40-60 candidates are chosen.  

    This year's workshop sent Mr. Harms to the Hopewell National Historical Park in Ohio to study the Ohio Mound Builders.  He chose this particular workshop because they discussed the similarities and differences between the Ohio Mounds and Cahokia Mounds, which he covers in several of his classes.  Mr. Harms will be using lots of new material that he learned from the trip this year in class.  Within the strict schedule of the workshop, were many different seminars which were held by “the best of the best”.  Among the speakers were the lead archaeologist of the Hopewell Mounds, Dr. Bradley Lepper, several different professors from around the country, and even a local Shawnee Chief.

    Even with the tight schedule and the long eight or nine hour days of touring and lecturing, the educators find a way to intermingle and form lasting professional relationships. Their common interests in education and teaching help them to discuss how this material will be used in the classrooms around the country.   

    According to Mr. Harms, there were two experiences that were set apart from the other events on the trip.  He really enjoyed the “Debunking Ancient Aliens” session, but the real highlight was the actual mounds themselves. The fact that the mounds line up exactly with various lunar events is amazing.He says that you can't possibly understand the mounds without the first hand experience, and you can feel the history of the area when walking around the complex.

    Overall, Harms explained that the reason why he enjoys these different workshops is because they are a great way for teachers to expand their knowledge, and he still loves learning.  Being able to make connections between the workshops and the content he covers in class is very fulfilling.  The only regret he has from this trip is missing out on some gourmet lavender ice cream.  With this year's NEH trip out of the way Mr. Harms is looking forward to applying for a few other workshops such as the Gilder Lehrman Workshop and American’s seminars.  When a teacher can make a connection between the content their teaching and real life experiences, it makes the class much more interesting and understandable.

by Harley Brandt