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The Liberty Today Initiative - inspiring educators through new media

Melanie Bowyer

Liberty Today teachers about to start a private tour of MonticelloHere at Monticello we have fantastic programs and resources for students and teachers. However, there has never been one like Liberty Today. The program began in 2011 with a grant from The Coca-Cola Foundation, and is quickly becoming the premiere professional development opportunity for the nation’s most talented American history teachers.

The first Liberty Today Talented Teacher's Forum was held in July 2012 at the Robert H. Smith Center at Montalto. The gorgeous setting overlooking Monticello and Charlottesville was an inspirational place to dig into the Jeffersonian ideas of liberty, freedom, democracy, and self-governance. During the week-long sessions, 18 teachers from across the nation brainstormed about ways to use 21st century digital tools to teach these ideas, aided by staff from Monticello and the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media at George Mason University. Brainstorming session at the Robert H. Smith Center on MontaltoThe teachers also enjoyed private tours of Monticello, field trips to other historic sites, and lectures from some of the top minds in the field. They were provided accommodations at the University of Virginia for the week, and were able to enjoy what Charlottesville has to offer through evening dining and independent exploration. Here is a link to a video we created with some highlights from the week:  

In addition to the on-site summer professional development opportunity for teachers, this summer we will launch a revolutionary new website, based on the Monticello exhibit the Boisterous Sea of Liberty. The website, titled Sea of Liberty, will feature digital resources unavailable anywhere else, as well as teaching tools for the classroom and social tools for teachers. The site is designed to help educators teach the ideas of liberty, freedom, and self-governance and how these ideas have changed over time, and will feature some of the challenges designed by the participants in the 2012 program!

2012 Liberty Today Talented Teacher's Forum participantsWe love what one of our 2012 teacher participants had to say about his experience: “participating with the Liberty Today Forum has been one of the most rewarding experiences I've ever had. My excitement for history, technology, and teaching gets supercharged all because of the great people at Monticello and the terrific ideas shared around the table." 

We are beginning the recruitment process for the 2013 Liberty Today Talented Teacher's Forum, so come join us and play a part in shaping our new website while learning ways to use digital tools for teaching history in the classroom. We guarantee a one-of-a-kind experience in an awe inspiring location – where else could you be closer to Thomas Jefferson and his ideas? 

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