Thursday May 25, 2017
Ted Godfrey is heading back in time this summer to experience colonial history in Williamsburg, Virginia. The Frederick H. Tuttle Middle School seventh and eighth grade teacher was awarded a fully-funded scholarship to attend an intense, six-day immersion in American history at the Colonial Williamsburg Teacher Institute. Now in its 28th year, the Institute prepares teachers to help students meet national and state history standards through hands-on immersion experiences in colonial history. The scholarship is funded by the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, so while there is no cost to the South Burlington School District, there is a direct positive impact on Godfrey’s students. While at the Institute, he will work collaboratively with Colonial Williamsburg staff and master teachers to examine interactive teaching techniques and develop instructional materials that bring history to life in the classroom.
Godfrey has a passion for inspiring students and “igniting interest in things they might not have heard of before.” He says, “I love getting kids to be curious about the world. The more I learn and experience, the more easily I can make topics available and approachable to students.”
A teacher of social studies, he especially likes teaching geography, adding, “I also love teaching about current events and opening kids’ eyes to things happening around the world. I enjoy having kids make connections between seemingly disconnected events.”
Having taught for 13 years, Godfrey holds a Master’s degree from the University of Vermont and is not unaccustomed to travel for either education or adventure. After teaching at FHTMS for eight years, Godfrey decided to practice his profession overseas in Vietnam for the 2010-2011 school year. This experience was motivated by his desire to find an educational challenge that would broaden his understanding of a part of the world he was teaching his seventh graders about. He adds, “Among many things learned, I was able to witness firsthand what rapid growth in a post-communist economy looks like coupled with high population density and a general lack of environmental regulation.”
After several travel adventures which included visiting 22 countries and traveling overland from Beijing to the Arctic Circle in Finland, Godfrey and his wife Lisa, who is a native Californian, lived and worked in Napa Valley for five years. He says of the experience, “Our years there gave me the opportunity to restore a 115-year-old house, teach at a progressive education school, and learn about and work in wine production at a top tier winery.”
With all this travel, it is notable that the couple made it back to the Green Mountain State. Godfrey reports that the move was a simple decision. “The opportunity to work in FHTMS again came up and, after having lived and taught in several places, I know the students, faculty, and community make South Burlington an overwhelmingly positive place to live and teach.”
During his six-day session this coming summer on location in Colonial Williamsburg, Godfrey and fellow participants will engage in an interdisciplinary approach to teaching social studies with American history as the focus. He will have the opportunity to exchange ideas with historians, meet character interpreters, and become part of the story in The Revolutionary City.
The program’s goal is to help teachers develop active learning classrooms and make history exciting for their students. Godfrey adds to that goal, “I hope to leave with a much better understanding of how the early settlers of Virginia Colony survived and how these people began to form their idea of self-government.”
When asked about his interest in colonial times and what might be notable and relevant to today, Godfrey is insightful as well as caring in regards to his own classroom. “The colonies were founded by immigrants, people who emigrated from their homes, crossed the Atlantic in terrible conditions for the chance to have new opportunities. Some people, of course, from West Africa didn’t choose to emigrate. Although many immigrants today are not from Europe, the reason for their immigration is still the same hundreds of years later,” says Godfrey, adding, “I have students in my class whose heritage and families are from several different continents. Our country’s richness has developed from this curious mixture of people from all around the world.”
SOURCE" Carole Vasta Folley, Assistant Editor