2014: It’s All History Now (Part 2 of 7)
Our education programs this year focused on increasing and diversifying our audiences and we have succeeded in a number of areas. This is due, in part, to the wonderful addition of Kathleen Nuemann, who joined our team in February as Manager of School and Interpretive Programs. She has reinvigorated our programs by creating new and engaging curricula and fresh narratives for the Wadsworth-Longfellow House.
Kathleen piloted the family-friendly, kid-approved “Children’s Hour” for young children and their caregivers. This story time and craft-making program was tied to seasonal themes around Thanksgiving and Christmas. The program drew a number of people, of all ages, who have never visited MHS before to our campus. Be on the lookout for more Children’s Hour programs in 2015!
Kids on Campus
The education team experienced one of our busiest spring seasons yet with school visits: only two weekdays in May were without school groups – one of which was Memorial Day!
This summer, we held our second week-long Junior Docent Camp, where seven campers came to learn about Maine history, Longfellow, and at the week’s end, they hosted a highly-attended and well-received open house at the Wadsworth-Longfellow House for their friends, family, and the MHS staff. Because of the camp’s success, we are planning for another session in 2015, with the possibility of adding a second session.
Local History Local Schools
Local History Local Schools, a program started in 2005 for elementary students from southern Maine, returned after being on hiatus last year. The program is based on our current major exhibition, involves in-classroom visits from MHS educators as well as a trip to the museum, research and art-making, and a family celebration displaying student work in the gallery at the project’s culmination.
In honor of this program, MHS recently dedicated a new student gallery space for displaying and celebrating students’ history projects. This year, students from Hall Elementary in Portland presented their work – including Wadsworth-Longfellow House models, dioramas, and hand-drawn postcards – based on our current exhibition, Home: The Longfellow House and Emergence of Portland. The event was celebrated among students, their family, friends, educators, local community, and the MHS Education Department in December. Twenty-five classrooms from five Portland-area schools have signed up to participate during the 2014-2015 academic year.
In concert with the Digital Engagement department, we worked to further incorporate the Maine Memory Network (MMN), a digital museum of images, online exhibits, and other Maine history related items from over 270 contributing partners around the state, into all our education programs.
Through MMN and the MHS website, we are helping students and educators discover Maine history in a new way with online lesson plans, tool kits and in-depth research.
For the second year, we hosted Student Spotlight talks that showcased new research from undergraduates and graduate students at Maine colleges and universities. During one session with recent Bowdoin College graduate Wallace Scot McFarlane, we facilitated a discussion about the pollution and clean up of the Androscoggin River in a partner-talk with the Maine Audubon (listen to the podcast).
Maine National History Day
MHS is part of an association group that took responsibility for restructuring and hosting Maine National History Day, an annual event for teachers and students grades 6-12 that promotes critical thinking skills through project-based learning. The University of Maine hosted the competition for the first time with great success and strong participation. MHS and the Maine Humanities Council collaborated on recruiting judges and co-facilitated the judge orientation at the contest.
For the first time in years, a Maine student won a first place prize at the national competition in Washington, D.C.: Noble High School student Noah Binette (pictured left) won top place for his presentation, Malaga Island: The Community that Maine Erased. Noah’s exhibit is now on display at Smithsonian National Museum of American History and has been chosen for display in New York at the annual conference of the American Historical Association.