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Rodney D. Pierce, eighth grade social studies, civics and economics teacher at William R. Davie Middle STEM Academy, was recently selected to attend the George Washington Teacher Institute Summer Residential Program.

The program is a five-day immersive professional development experience designed to support K-12 educators who teach about the life, leadership, and legacy of George Washington and the 18th-century world in which he lived.

Participants live and learn on-site at Mount Vernon — Washington’s home.

In addition, the fourth-year teacher was also picked to attend Teaching Hard History: Slavery, Reconstruction and Lasting Legacies in Raleigh from May 17-18.

The two-day workshop, a collaborative effort between Carolina K-12 and the North Carolina Museum of History, will provide a mixture of historical content addressing the realities of slavery, Reconstruction, lynching, and Jim Crow, as well as pedagogical skills, techniques, and protective measures teachers can employ when addressing hard history and potentially controversial current events.

The GWTI awarded Pierce a full scholarship, which includes a travel stipend, room/board, meals, and all program fees.

He was one of 120 applicants selected from 392 applications from 38 different states.

Pierce will attend Slavery in George Washington’s World from June 18-22.

Washington’s home at Mount Vernon was the residence of more than 300 enslaved individuals whose lives, labor, and legacy helped shape the 18th century.

Through new interpretations of written records and archaeological evidence, their individual narratives create learning opportunities which can broaden students’ understanding of the institution of slavery. The program will explore the challenge of teaching slavery and race in today’s classroom.  

The George Washington Teacher Institute Residential Programs are highly competitive educational experiences which bring teachers to Mount Vernon for an intensive course of study. Participants immerse themselves in the study and discussion of important themes in American history and the role Washington played in the founding of the nation. Programs are offered annually in the spring, summer, and fall.

Pierce is currently a Fellow in the Public School Forum of NC’s Education Policy Fellowship and was recognized as the 2019 N.C. Council for the Social Studies Teacher of the Year in February.