GARDINER – The Maine Humanities Council, in collaboration with SAD 11 in Gardiner, is inviting social studies teachers in central Maine to apply for “American Lives: Teaching History Through Biography,” an innovative three-year professional development program funded by the U.S. Department of Education.

Participants will be trained to do original research in five major archives in Maine for a Web site designed to present the life stories of notable Americans.

“Teachers will study the art of biography, drawing on the rich archival resources available here in Maine,” said Marli Weiner, professor of history at the University of Maine. “They will then write mini-biographies and document-based curriculum units, which will be made available to every school in the country on the Web.”

Teachers will receive a $1,500 stipend a year, plus travel costs, for participating in book discussions, two summer institutes at Bowdoin College, field trips and archival work. Application deadline is Dec. 19.

SAD 11 is the official host of the program, funded by a $953,000 Teaching American History Grant, a project originated by U.S. Sen. Robert Byrd (D-West Virginia) in response to his concern that American history and civics were being neglected by social studies departments.

Other partners include the History Department of the University of Maine, the Margaret Chase Smith Library, the Muskie Archive at Bates College, the Maine State Archives, the Maine Historical Society and Special Collections at Bowdoin.

Two special features, said project director Charles Calhoun, are the opportunity for teachers to do collaborative research with qualified high school students and the emphasis on raising student aspirations through the study of American heroes, national as well as local.

The project is open to anyone in Maine teaching U.S. history or American Studies who lives within convenient driving distance of Gardiner, where many of the project activities will take place. For details on how to apply, e-mail [email protected]

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