Picture of Susan Johansen, Wright ES, with several of her students.

Susan Johansen, Wright ES, To Participate in Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association Workshop

Susan Johansen, a teacher at Wright Elementary School, is among a group of 72 K-12 teachers selected from around the nation to gather in Old Deerfield, Massachusetts, this summer  to study in depth one of the pivotal events in early American history, the February 29, 1704 French and Indian Raid on the frontier outpost village of Deerfield, Massachusetts.

The workshop is entitled "Living on the Edge of Empire" and is hosted by the Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association (PVMA) of Deerfield, Massachusetts, one of New England's oldest history museums, founded in 1870.  The workshop in Deerfield is one of twenty-two highly competitive National Endowment for the Humanities Landmarks of American History and Culture Workshops offered this summer across the nation.

The National Endowment for the Humanities is a federal agency that each year supports summer study opportunities so that teachers can work with experts in the humanities discipline at or near sites important to American history and culture (for example, presidential residences or libraries; colonial-era settlements; major battlefields; historic districts; parks and preserves; sites of key economic, social, political, and constitutional developments; and places associated with major writers, artists, and musicians).

The "Living on the Edge of Empire" workshop is led by prominent historians of early American History, Native American culture, and early African Americans.  Scholars include Dr. Kevin Sweeney, Dr. Marge Bruchac, Dr. John Demos, and Dr. Joanne Melish as well as members of the Old Deerfield Village Historic Landmark District museum staff.  Each workshop day will include a highly distinguished scholar; central questions; readings; small group sessions; work with material resources; site visits; and classroom integration strategies.  In addition to lectures and discussions with scholars, the workshop activities include field excursions to another museum of the period and to Peskeompskut, the site of a major battle in King Philip's War.  Evening programs will include first person presentations, period food, music, and dance.

These workshops include professional development points and $1,200 stipends to assist with covering costs of attending (housing, meals, transportation, etc.).  The week-long session is limited to 36 participants and there was a competitive application process which included close review of teachers' qualifications and their plans to implement what they will learn in their classrooms.

"We were looking for a diverse group of educators for our program," said Lynne Manring, Landmark Workshop Project Director. "We received teacher applications from all parts of the country.  Participating teachers will have an enriching personal experience as they share perspectives and teaching techniques with their colleagues from around the nation."

"Teachers will find many ways to engage their own students in American history by studying the 1704 Raid on Deerfield," according to Tim Neumann, Executive Director of the Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association.  "The bucolic New England town of Deerfield, Massachusetts of today was, for one brief, three-hour span in the early 18th century, the main stage of violent clashing between European colonial empires, diverse Native American nations, and personal visions and ambitions," said   Neumann.

"If one were to find oneself back in time early in the morning of February 29, 1704, one would be met by the flicker of flames and smell of smoke and gun powder; one's ears would be awash in a cacophony of French, English, and Native voices mixed with battle sounds, and cries of despair and triumph.  French, English, Indians, Africans; men, women, children; soldiers, ministers, farmers, and traders ...how did each of these people come to be here on this fateful day?  What motivated their actions?  How would this battle change their lives and their nations?  The 1704 attack on the English colonial town of Deerfield, Massachusetts, is a military saga, a family story, a case study of colonialism - a multi-cultural glimpse of early American history.  The attack on Deerfield was an event rooted in cultural and religious conflicts, personal and family retribution, genocidal expansion, trade, and kinship ties.  The attack on Deerfield had a profound legacy which would influence the English colonies up to the opening of the American Revolution, and continues to influence America to this day," concluded Neumann.