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August 2009 letter to teachers


									                                    It only takes one shining moment for a kid to get turned on to history.
                                    That happens best when dealing with historic sites and gripping local
                                     stories well-told. Let’s make the magic happen in your classroom . . .

  Mosby Heritage Area Association School Program Offerings, 2009-10

TO:           4th, 5th, 6th, & 11th grade teachers in Loudoun, Fauquier, Clarke, and western Prince William
FROM:         Rich Gillespie, Director of Education, Mosby Heritage Area
SUBJECT: This Year’s Local History Program offerings brought right to your classroom

The Mosby Heritage Area is a non-profit educational organization devoted to promoting an interest
in local history in Loudoun, Fauquier, Prince William, Clarke, and Warren counties. We try to promote a
sense of “stewardship” in kids for the stories and historic sites of our local past. We have a Civil War
name—Mosby was a famous Rebel cavalryman operating here in 1863-65—but our devotion is to all local
history stories. With the huge changing demographic of our region, we try to get both natives and
newcomers to be curious about the history that’s “out there” in their county and nearby.
Our biggest single undertaking is our schools program. Each year we provide programming to dozens
of schools in Loudoun, Fauquier, western Prince William, and Clarke, giving field trips or 90-minute
programs hitting all the students in a grade. We work with 15-50 students at a time to get them curious
about their local history. When it comes to local history education, we are one of the most active local
history organizations, and the most active going into public and private schools in Loudoun, Fauquier,
Prince William, and Clarke. Teachers bring us back year after year due to the positive effect using local
history in the classroom has on their students, especially in the hands of an expert story teller/ outreach
teacher. We also provide follow-up activities to take students’ interest beyond the classroom.
All of our programs introduce students to the idea of the role of young Virginians in saving their
local history, then use a group of stories from the past to get them curious. Our programs use
photographs, emphasize vivid storytelling, and when relevant, bring in artifacts or reproductions. Each
program concludes with students receiving (through their teacher) their county’s Heritage Scavenger
Hunt, a booklet with a tour for students and their families to take to find colonial, Civil War, African-
American, and other local historical sites that are cool and have feel for kids. Students visit old mills,
railroad stations, homes, graveyards, Civil War battle or skirmish sites, old churches, and old schools.
Imagine touching the grave of an actual slave! [Students who complete a scavenger hunt receive a popular
Mosby Heritage Area t-shirt.] We also provide a list of good web sites for each student, and a battery of
suggested follow-up activities for the teacher to consider. Of course, all programs have an SOL tie-in.
We both finesse and face the most difficult local historical topics to our various audiences—even
difficult topics that kids want to ask about—like slavery, secession, guerilla warfare, and how and why
local families were so divided over the War. We get kids pretty excited about history, which helps them do
better facing the SOLs. You do well at what you are excited about and have given some thought to.

ABOUT THE COST: Programs continue to be free to schools in the heritage area. Because the
Mosby Heritage Area Association is a history non-profit in a difficult economy, offering programs
free is a challenge for our organization. Our local citizen-members have to raise the money. While we
do not require it, we do hugely appreciate a donation from your school or PTA to defray our expenses
in spending a day at your school. We’ll offer up to three sessions of our 90-minute program for you.
Our Program Line-up for 2009-10:
1. “Mosby, Heritage, and You”—a classroom program for 4th graders. This is our original program,
designed for 4th graders taking Virginia Studies. It never fails to amaze how effectively “The Gray
Ghost” incites curiosity in kids! John Singleton Mosby was considered a “guerilla fighter” by the
invading Union forces, but as a “special forces” command by the Confederate army. He is still studied by
the U.S. Military today, in particular, by Army Rangers. We put this famous story in context by discussing
the Civil War in your county and in the neighborhood of your school. We also talk about what kids can do
to be “stewards” of your county’s history. All stories are based on historic sites in the heritage area.

2. “A Slavery Odyssey”—This program for 4th, 5th, 6th or 11th graders examines slavery and freedom as it
played out in the Mosby Heritage Area’s Loudoun County from 1840-67, which allows us to examine how
slavery operated in northern Virginia, to see cases of the Underground Railroad at work in the region, and
to see examples of the impact locally on African-Americans of the Civil War and Emancipation when it
came. Using local Virginia historic sites to illustrate the ideas and stories of slavery and the Underground
Railroad, this program can be followed up by students’ families using the scavenger hunt each student will
receive. Many of the sites used to illustrate A Slavery Odyssey can be visited in the Loudoun scavenger
hunt, and each county’s scavenger hunt includes key African-American sites. Like the Mosby program, it
comes with activities for teachers to use after the presentation and extends history beyond the classroom.
This program lasts 90 minutes. Two classes can be handled at a time.

3. “Sometimes There Comes a Crack in Time . . .”—A John Brown’s Raid Sesquicentennial Program.
Designed for mature 11th grade U.S. and Virginia History classes. This gripping program looks at the
electrifying 1859 case of John Brown, as he attempted to begin a massive run-off of slaves by seizing the
federal armory and arsenal at Harpers Ferry. Looking at the experience of the slave, the situation of slavery
opposition on the eve of the Civil War, at the experience of the often-young abolitionist raiders, and the
terrifying impact of the failed raid on Northern Virginia, this program features music, photographs,
discussion, and dramatic first-person story-telling at one of the Mosby Heritage Area’s most famous tales.
Lost in pursuit of SOLs and the threatening AP or IB American History Exam at the end of the year,
students often lose site of the gripping reality of history. This two-person program seeks to rectify this with
high power engagement and provocation. Students will receive relevant web sites for follow-up research as
well as a guide to local historical sites that tell the story of John Brown and slavery before the Civil War.
As with all our programs, we try to get students to understand the value of saving historical sites and
landscapes that help us tell the stories of our past. An academically mature audience is recommended
for this program, such as AP or IB.

4. “None but an Eyewitness has an Idea”—A Civil War Sesquicentennial Program—Versions have
been designed for 4th, 6th, or 11th grades . Through the eyes of a handful of symbolic local people, men
and women, black and white, Union and Secessionists, we bring the Civil War experience of the Mosby
Heritage Area alive. The stories are riveting, and show just how difficult that time was for people here, so
engulfed by the enormity of the Civil War. All stories are based on historic sites in the heritage area.
Students receive their county’s scavenger hunt and recommended web sites to peruse. NEW this year!

PLEASE NOTE: If you are not willing or able to distribute scavenger hunts and other follow-up
materials to students, we feel our program will be dramatically less effective in your school. We
request that you do not order a program. If you would like to see any materials in advance, we’d be
happy to send or e-mail them to you. Scavenger hunts are viewable at .

If you’d like to book a program please e-mail me: (1)      your name, e-mail, school address, and phone;
                                                  (2)      which program you would like (choose one)            (3)      the number of classes and students participating;
                                                  (4)      first and second choice dates that work for you.

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