The entrance to Ellis Island, NY, seen on a NEH program.

The entrance to Ellis Island, NY, seen on a NEH program.

Teaching Traveling: Interested in funded professional development opportunities for teachers to Colonial Williamsburg, Ellis Island, and more?

Let’s get a great educator travel program tip from a Special Education teacher named Trisha Daningburg! Trisha, tell us about your background. 

Trisha: I am from Western New York and now live and teach in the Finger Lakes of New York. I have just started year 11 at my district. I teach Middle School Special Education.

I boarded my first flight at age 19, and I have not turned back. These last two summers I’ve combined my love of travel and love of teaching with some incredible professional development opportunities.

Trisha with Ann Wager at Colonial Williamsburg.

Trisha with Ann Wager at Colonial Williamsburg.

TT: Wonderful! Tell us about some of the best teacher travel opportunities you’ve found for professional development.

T: Colonial Williamsburg has been one of my favorite P.D. locations. History is truly alive in Williamsburg, Virginia. That statement is more than a cheesy saying, because you are actually immersed in history.

It is a place where you can ask questions and the experts are all around you. I have now been to Colonial Williamsburg three times, and each was incredible and unique. The first trip was on a family vacation. The second two times were for teacher professional development programs.

In the Wigmakers Shop at Colonial Williamsburg.

In the Wigmakers Shop at Colonial Williamsburg.

The first teacher program I attended was the Middle School Teacher Institute which is 6 days chock full of learning, with day trips to Jamestown, Yorktown, and Richmond. This program costs money, but scholarships are available.

My most recent trip to Colonial Williamsburg was a 3 day institute on Primary Sources: Women in the American Revolution. We were fortunate enough to see some of the special collections and archives for Colonial Williamsburg.

This trip led to amazing experiences as both a participant on the trip and as a teacher, with all that I was able to bring back to my district.

A horse at Colonial Williamsburg, VA.

Horses at Colonial Williamsburg, VA.

Next, through NEH (National Endowment for the Humanities) professional development grants for teachers, I was able to live at Rutgers University for two weeks, attending classes about immigration, migration, and resettlement.

We took field trips to Ellis Island and Seabrook Farms to gain context for our learning, while gaining valuable insight into history that I have now been able to take back to my classroom.

A brickmaking activity during professional development.

A brick-making activity during professional development.

TT: Wow! How do you find these teacher travel opportunities? 

T: Three years ago someone who knew I loved history told me that Colonial Williamsburg had a Teacher Institute. I decided to apply for a scholarship even though I’m not officially a History Teacher.

I was fortunate enough to land a scholarship, and while on that trip, other teachers started mentioning other teacher travel programs. I began to compile a list.

Colonial Williamsburg's Teacher Institute handouts.

Colonial Williamsburg’s Teacher Institute handouts.

This past summer I added a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute (NEH) to my experiences because a fellow Colonial Williamsburg participant mentioned it.

There are lots of teacher travel grants out there, if you keep your ears open! I have since joined a Facebook group that posts various opportunities for teachers and I’m hoping my experiences will continue to grow.

At the Colonial Williamsburg Teacher Institute.

At the Colonial Williamsburg Teacher Institute.

TT: Nice! How did you find the money to fund your travel? 

T: Colonial Williamsburg has scholarships available. Further, some districts can pay to send teachers, so not everyone there is on a scholarship, but it is worth applying.

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) provides a stipend to all participants and that helps offset the costs. I’m a big believer in where there’s a will, there’s a way.

Trisha got to stay at Rutgers for the NEH teacher travel opportunity.

Trisha got to stay at Rutgers for the NEH teacher travel opportunity.

TT: Indeed. Tell us one moment from your travels that was particularly powerful.

T: This summer I participated in a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Institute called “The Company Town at Seabrook Farms, NJ: Internment, Migration, and Resettlement in the WWII Era.”

On one of our final days we went to Seabrook Farms, and we had the privilege to meet and talk with Frank Ono. He was 18 when he was sent to Manzanar Concentration Camp.

Frank Ono, speaking about Japanese internment camps.

Frank Ono, speaking about Japanese internment camps.

Ono said, “My heart never changed any. I’m still American, but just because of my features, I went from 1A to 4C which is Enemy Alien.”

His entire story was incredible, but that particular quote stood out to me, given how relevant this still is today.

At the Colonial Williamsburg Teacher Institute.

At the Colonial Williamsburg Teacher Institute.

TT: So powerful. How have your travels impacted you as a teacher, and as a person?

T: I have learned so much through my travels. I teach at a rural school with a small staff. I am the only Special Education teacher at my grade level, so collaborating with other educators from across the United States has been invaluable.

Our students will be global citizens. My personal and professional travels have also been something I can bring back to my students, many of whom have not seen most of our state, let alone the world.

Trisha at Ellis Island, seeing where history happened.

Trisha at Ellis Island, seeing where history happened.

TT: Beautifully put. What advice do you have for teachers who are dreaming of travel? 

T: My advice to teachers who dream of travel: Do it! As lifelong learners, it is worth it to pack your bag and go learn and experience something new.

TT: Thanks so much, Trisha! Readers, what questions or comments do you have?

Colonial Williamsburg, VA and the NEH offer great teacher professional development travel opportunities with these funded programs! Share with any educators!

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  1. Trisha Daningburg October 30, 2018 at 9:59 pm

    Thank you for the interview and sharing so many amazing stories through your site!


    1. Thank YOU for taking the time to be interviewed, Trisha! You’ll help many educators reading.


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