Constance’s List: Summer of Learning Professional Development

By: Constance Vidor, Director of Library Services, Friends Seminary, NYC

Being an educator gives you entree to a glorious world of summertime learning. Some of the very best opportunities are free or very low-cost–and priceless. This list is comprised almost entirely of programs I have participated in or that colleagues have recommended to me. They are all open to full time K-12 librarians. Many of them are competitive, but as a librarian you will often be seen as someone who brings something unique to the experience. If you know of something I should have included, please email me at and I will add it.

National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Seminars and Institutes for K-12 Educators:

These are one- to four-week opportunities for full time teachers to explore a variety of humanities topics. They are usually taught on college campuses by college teachers with a passion for the subject. Participants receive a stipend that will cover cost of the living expenses and travel. The topics and locations are usually announced between October and late November for the following summer. I have participated in three NEH seminars, and each one was a career highlight.

Gilder Lehrman Teacher Seminars

Similar to National Endownment for the Humanities seminars, but focused on American history and usually a week in duration. Costs are minimal. Here is the 2018 list, to give you an idea.

Korea Academy for Educators

A week of celebration and learning, you will discover the history and culture of Korea and the heritage of many of your Korean and Korean-American students. When I participated in this program there were full scholarships available. There are no current offerings on the website, but keep checking back.

National Gallery of Art Summer Institute

This 6-day program provides an immersion in an art topic–past programs have covered American Art, Renaissance Art, and Dutch Masterpieces. The cost is only $200, but you must pay for your own room and board in Washington D.C. There is some scholarship money. If you love art, this one is worth putting on your credit card.

American Bar Association Summer Institute for Teachers

The 2019 Institute hasn’t yet been announced, but you can see the kind of program they offer by looking at previous institute agendas. Cost to participants is minimal. Past institutes have focussed on important federal trials and supreme court cases. Participants have met Supreme Court justices and other stellar judges.

Ford’s Theater Summer Teacher Programs

2019 programs: Civil War Washington and The Seat of War and Peace. Cost information isn’t clear as of this writing. Program combines field trips and instruction.

Midway Institute for Teachers

Program is set on the U.S.S. Midway. Topics involve cultural and military history, including The Cold War, Viet Nam, and World War II and the Pacific. Participants receive stipends ranging from $500 to $1000. Some programs are open only to California teachers.

Huntington Library Summer Teacher Institute

Topics vary. Participants receive a $500 stipend and work with the library’s primary sources. I haven’t taken these workshops, but the program looks wonderful. I don’t see any information about living accommodations, but program appears to be open to educators from throughout the U.S.

Great Jewish Books Summer Teacher Seminar

Month-long immersion in great works of Jewish literature. This year’s program “is for teachers at Jewish middle and high schools only. Teachers in all disciplines are invited to apply.”

Doors to the World

This program is based at the Five Colleges Association in New England. They periodically run week-long summer courses on global literature for young readers. I participated in Teaching East Asia With Picture Books in 2017 and loved it. Cost is minimal and the setting at Hamshire College is idyllic. Eric Carle Picture Book Museum is within walking distance. Cafeteria serves excellent food. Beer, wine, and fresh bakery available within walking distance through the corn field. Check back and watch the HVLA list for summer 2019 announcement.

National Consortium for Teaching About Asia

This organization runs online courses about East Asia. I have taken many of them, and they are great. No cost. After you take a certain number of credits you will qualify for heavily subsidized summer Study Tours in Asia.

Oxbridge for Educator Journeys

This organization runs programs both for teachers and students. Teacher programs are based in British or European universities, last a week, and combine field trips in and around the location with classroom discussions and lectures. I have taken two of the programs, one in Paris and one in Dublin. Both were stellar experiences. Cost is under $3000 for the week, and includes room and most meals. Dinners are in very nice restaurants. Scholarship money is available.

Mt. Vernon Summer Residential Programs for Teachers

You can choose among several different theme weeks. You will have lectures, discussions, and immersion experiences. “State-specific scholarships and travel stipends are available.” I have not attended this, but have heard it is a wonderful experience.

Monticello Teacher Institute

No cost to participants. Work with primary sources, consult with scholars, collaborate with colleguges, explore the Monticello estate.

Library of Congress Summer Teacher Institutes

Various topics are available for teachers to choose. Work with primary sources, learn engaging teaching techniques, collaborate, discover the vast collections of the nation’s library. No cost for tuition, but participants pay for their own lodging and most meals. Highly recommended by past participants.

New Orleans National World War II Museum Teacher Institute

No cost to participants. “ The program includes both an intensive weeklong seminar at The National WWII Museum in New Orleans and a weeklong excursion to a World War II-related destination. [The 2019 excursion is to Munich.] Each year’s institute focuses on a different aspect of the war, employing a rich array of curriculum tools and primary sources to help bring the war to life in the classroom. “ Colleagues of mine who have participated in this program rate it very highly.

Freedoms Foundation Teacher Programs

This organization runs tours and courses for teachers that focus on different aspects of American history. Scholarship money is plentiful, according to website. As of this writing I haven’t confirmed whether librarians are eligible, but website has a very welcoming ethos. Colleague who have taken past courses rate these experiences highly.

Approaching Walden: a Walden Woods Project

This is “a six-day professional development seminar for high school educators and graduate students. The seminar provides teachers with the skills they need to lead their students in a study of their home community. This place-based interdisciplinary workshop uses Henry David Thoreau’s writings and philosophy as a model. Through Thoreau’s example of living deliberately, we can learn how to do so in our own communities and pass it along to the next generation.” Stipends are available to cover expenses. Includes lectures, journalling, and trips to Walden Pond and historic Concord.

National Museum of Women in the Arts Arts, Books, and Creativity Summer Institute for Teachers

Free, but participants may have to fund their own room and board. Check website for 2019 announcement. “Ideal for educators of grades 3–8, the annual summer ABC Teacher Institute, now in its 8th year, introduces participants to the Arts, Books, and Creativity (ABC) Curriculum and resources. Since 2010, approximately 150 pre-kindergarten through 12th grade teachers have attended this institute, and all of them say they would recommend it to a colleague!”

Fort Ticonderoga Teacher Institute

“World Wars: Historical Comparison of the French & Indian War (1754-1763) and World War I (1914-1918) July 21-26, 2019. Winston Churchill once remarked that the geographical range of the Seven Years’ War (known as the French & Indian War in North America) could very well have constituted the “first world war.” Fort Ticonderoga invites teachers to dive into this assessment at the 2019 Fort Ticonderoga Teacher Institute “World Wars: Historical Comparison of the French & Indian War and World War I.”

Centropa Summer Academies: 20th Century History, the Holocaust and Civil Society in the Global Classroom

Centropa is an organization that provides resources and education about the Holocaust. They offer a 10-day summer program for educators. Programs are located in Central Europe, each summer a different city or group of cities. The cost is $3000, and there is no scholarship funding for  independent school educators. I include this program on the list because colleagues who have participated have recommended it so highly.

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