Michael Dunn, Chestnut Hill resident and history teacher at AIM Academy in Conshohocken, traveled to Missoula, Montana for a seven-day Lewis and Clark based adventure of intensive study.
Dunn was one of 30 teachers hand-picked to participate in the summer professional development program.
The central focus of the seminar was general knowledge about Lewis and Clark, critical discussions surrounding literacy instruction in the classroom, examining how to use primary sources more effectively and efficient teaching of literacy in history courses.
The series of seminars is led by University of Arkansas distinguished Professor of American History, Dr. Elliot West. Presenters also included Billy Maxwell of the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center, Stephen Small Salmon, tribal elder of the Salish-Kootenai reservation, and Rachel Daniels of the National Park Service.
“This seminar was particularly interesting because the story of Lewis and Clark really is one of America’s favorite history stories,” said Dunn, whose trip was funded by the Gilder-Lehrman Institute for American History.
The group of teachers is selected from all over the country including faculty from public, private, independent, and academy structure schools.
“Exploration of America is an interesting topic in its content that is not covered in schools as much as it could be,” said Dunn.
The seminar focused on content and lessons to bring back to the students, but Dunn said faculty also took away personal gains.
“It’s no surprise to anyone that teaching is an exhausting job,” said Dunn. “Taking time to reflect and swap stories with other teachers is a good way to rejuvenate.”
Back in Philadelphia
Dunn moved to Philadelphia five years ago and settled in Mt. Airy before he moved to Chestnut Hill.Before moving east, he earned his undergraduate degree at Michigan State and his Masters degree from Wayne University in Detroit.
“What I love most about where I live is that it seemed familiar to me from the beginning,” said Dunn. “Philly is like Detroit because of the way everyone identifies with their neighborhoods and wear it with pride.”
Initially, Dunn taught at el Centro de Estudiantes in Kensington for about a year before accepting his current position at AIM Academy.