Much like Carmen Sandiego, Mr. Harms has traveled the world. Every year Mr. Harms applies to the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) summer workshops. Teachers may apply to two workshops per year but are only allowed to attend one if accepted. There are usually over 1,000 applicants for a given workshop, but only 40-60 select candidates will be accepted.
Mr. Harms has been chosen many times(seven to be exact) and has traveled to many far away states. A few notable places have been Laramie, Wyoming; Lewiston, New York; Lawrence, Kansas; Cleveland, Mississippi; Springfield, Missouri; Richland, Washington; and even a locale just minutes from home in Edwardsville, Illinois.
One of Mr. Harms’ favorite experiences was retracing the murder of Emmett Till and the effect it had on the Civil Rights Movement. He visited his uncle's home where he was kidnapped, and the property where he was beaten to death. Mr Harms says that to meet investigators from the FBI, members of Till's family, local historians, the son of the defense attorney, and the last living witness of the events of the day were definitely a “once in a lifetime opportunity.”
Other unique historical experiences allowed Mr. Harms to trace ancestors who fought in the Civil War. He ate at MLK’s favorite restaurant and also got to visit the room where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, which is usually closed to the public. Mr. Harms’ experiences are not only exciting for him, but they are exciting for the students too. It is so much easier for the students to be intrigued in the lesson when the teacher is so passionate about what they are teaching.
Every workshop is different, so Mr. Harms gets to bring back a wide variety of knowledge for the classroom. Sometimes he can use the knowledge in almost all of his classes, and in others he can only use for one specific subject. Mr. Harms always comes back armed with new teaching skills and techniques from the workshops and the teachers from other states that he gets to meet. He hopes more teachers take advantage of NEH opportunities because it is a wonderful way to learn new teaching tactics. Check out all the NEH programs at www.neh.gov.
By Shayla Stokes
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