Presenting and Participating at the Middle States Council for the Social Studies 114th Annual Regional Conference
Feb. 24-25, 2017 by Monica Kwiatkowski

Thanks to the Catt- Allegany Teacher Center, I had the extraordinary opportunity to attend the Middle States Council for the Social Studies Conference, in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. The theme this year, “Social Studies: A Road Map for Social Justice” provided the backdrop for two days of incredible networking with educators, practitioner workshops, and presentations from experts in the field.

Our first day field trip included a private tour of Bunker 519 at Fort Miles, Delaware State Park, a fully restored WWII era fort and museum housed in Lewes Delaware State Park. The bunker can be virtually undetected from above ground, but once to its doors, an entire cement world opens up. There we learned the importance of Philadelphia as a shipping hub during the war, and the US strategy to protect its waters. Fort Miles houses one of the largest collections of large diameter guns designed to take out German battle ships and houses an underground bunker turned into a museum. It was an historians dream to roam around underground studying the artifacts and recreations that allowed for the fort to be operational to the public. The visit gave me great insights that I can share with my students to better understand the military defense strategy of the US during WWII.

Our second day included break out sessions on various topics including utilizing Inquiry, Argument writing, and Online DBQ’s from the DBQ Project. I explored the difficulties that Sikh-Americans face through a presentation from the Kaur Foundation, which provided me with a great learning strategy using a museum walk and silence to allow students to process information from news articles. I have already used their materials to enrich my Advisory classes to discuss and break physical stereotypes.  Another one of my favorite sessions included using the C3 framework and inquiry to explore past and present immigration trends from Alexandra Greenword from Harford Co. Public School Maryland. To wrap up the day, I attended a panel discussion was led on current concerns of minority groups from experts from Temple University, Howard University, the Kaur Foundation, LGBT Lobby, and Russia Initiatives.                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

A librarian specialist from Anne Arundel Public Schools, Maryland, Carol Thornton, and I presented about our experience developing lesson plans as a Barringer Fellow, at Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson, during the summer of 2016. Our presentation, “Thomas Jefferson on Life, Liberty, and leaving a Legacy”, had 15 teachers attend and was well received by the audience. We shared our week-long adventure at the University of Virginia, and exploring all aspects of the inner workings of Monticello. After the presentation, we had a young teacher come up and tell us that the material we provided was going to help him develop his formal observation lesson for next week. It did my heart good to know I was helping a new educator become better at his craft.

Overall, the experience was well worth the time and effort it took to head to Delaware. I explored some of the best educational practices going on in a six state region in the Social Studies, I was able to visit the vendors to see their new wares, and the networking with like-minded colleagues helped me get excited about my craft and my everyday classroom activities. Thank you so much Catt- Allegany Teacher Center for helping me get there.  

Participating in the USS Midway Institute in San Diego, CA
June 25-July 7, 2017 by Beverly Sweet

The Cattaraugus-Allegany Teacher Center assisted in part of the travel expenses incurred)  I highly recommend this top-notch workshop!  The program provided me with a much deeper content knowledge of the Cold War, Korea and Vietnam.  A wide variety of speakers presented many different perspectives.  Altogether, we had over 40 lectures on some very thought-provoking topics.  I could write about each one, but will share just a few.  

One of our speakers was Admiral Larry Chambers.  He was the first African American to graduate from the Naval Academy and eventually commanded the USS Midway during Operation Frequent Wind.  He shared his experiences dealing with the evacuation of Saigon and his controversial order to push millions of dollars of UH-1 Huey helicopters overboard to make room for more refugees.  He told us the story of Major Buang, his wife and their five children.  Major Buang flew over the USS Midway and dropped a note as he passed over the deck:  “Can you move the helicopter to the other side, I can land on your runway, I can fly for one hour more, Please rescue me! Major Buang, wife and 5 child.”  Admiral Chambers issued the order to allow the plane to land on the Midway’s flight deck.  Amazingly, the Major was able to land and was congratulated for his outstanding bravery and airmanship.  At the time, Chambers thought that his order would get him court martialed.  Obviously, that did not happen.  It was an honor to have listened to his first-hand account of the evacuation of Saigon and to learn about the Midway’s role in the operation.

We listened to a gentleman, Boris Ivanovich Gvozdarev, who gave us the Soviet perspective on the Cold War.  It was not until he finished his presentation that we learned he was not a real Russian.  He was just role playing.  I had bought it “hook, line and sinker.”  I was dumbfounded.  He did an excellent job helping us to see things from the Soviet Union’s point of view.

Another lecturer was Robert Dallek, the renowned historian who specializes in the presidents of the United States.  I had read several of his books, so it was an honor to hear from him.  He spoke about Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon and their roles in the Cold War.  He also shared some interesting stories about Henry Kissinger.

We also heard from a refugee who had been rescued by the USS Midway.  She came here as a child and is now a successful businesswoman in San Diego.  To provide us with multiple perspectives, we also listened to a Vietnam protester.  In addition, we looked at how the Civil Rights Movement tied in with this era and discussed the pop culture of the 60s and 70s as it related to the Cold War.   We heard from numerous veterans, the inventor of a spy satellite, and about 35 other people – all of whom had interesting stories to share.

As if that were not enough, we had seven hours of guided tours of the ship.  We explored the flight deck, the various other decks, and even had the chance to go to the “belly of the beast” and see how the ship operated.  The USS Midway was the Persian Gulf flagship in Operation Desert Storm, and I was in the room where decisions were made.  It was truly an amazing experience.

We also had a field trip to the San Diego Maritime Museum where we had the chance to explore an American and a Russian submarine.

At the USS Midway Museum the movie “Voices of Midway” is shown to introduce the USS Midway to the museum’s visitors.  I have a DVD of this movie and would be happy to share it with anyone interested -- either for personal edification or for use in the classroom.  I also have a number of books that I would love to share.

This workshop gave me an opportunity to interact with teachers from all across the United States.  We shared ideas and learned from each other.  I am anxious to integrate my experiences into my courses this year. It was truly an awesome two weeks!