Operations/Professional Development Director
I worked as an archaeologist for 8 years and I began to lose passion for the profession I had selected. In 2013, I received an email about attending an archaeology education training in Montana offered by Project Archaeology. During that week, I experienced a transformational change that redirected and reignited my passion for archaeology. The artifacts are cool, but the people who made and used the objects, and the land on which they rest, and the descendants who keep the stories are the real treasure of the discipline. Through facilitating numerous workshops and youth programs over the years, I have discovered a profound joy in working with and learning from people from diverse cultures and professions. I love that the Project Archaeology curriculum is inherently interdisciplinary and has promoted cultural empathy, inclusive history, and stewardship of irreplaceable cultural resources for over 30 years. One of my favorite things to hear from teachers following a workshop is, “My kids loved this unit!” I champion this program because I have seen it change perspectives, ignite the fires of inquiry, and connect humanity.
In 1990, a team of archaeologists and educators distributed the first version of the educational materials that would eventually become the national Project Archaeology program. The first draft included a series of lessons on rock art; what it might mean, why it is important to protect it, and the fact that it is often damaged by modern graffiti, chalk tracing, bullet holes, and attempts to remove it from the stone walls.
About a year later we received some brief assessments from elementary students who had experienced some of these lessons. One of the questions we asked students was, “What will you remember about archaeology a year from now”? Many of the students answered, “Vandalism of rock art hurts the living descendants of the people who made it.” When I saw those answers, I thought, “We have something here.” The kids made the connection between the past and present and between thoughtless vandalism and the feelings of living descendants. They achieved cultural understanding at a deep conceptual level. I knew then that cultural heritage education would be my life’s work and I have never looked back.
As a teacher, I saw the Project Archaeology hands-on lessons transform my students into investigators of the past. I want all teachers to have the opportunity to experience archaeological sites and to engage their students with tangible, authentic evidence of history. After my first year of teaching in 2009, I attended a workshop on the Plains Tipi at Little Bighorn Battlefield, and I have been involved with Project Archaeology ever since. I have led over twelve professional development institutes which blend my passion for teaching with my love of archaeology. I have had the opportunity to write five curriculum guides on exciting places such as Pompeii, Painted Bluff, and the Clovis Child Burial. As the Network Director I am amazed by the archaeology educators throughout the nation that I have the honor to collaborate with, train, and encourage.
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