Building Community in Schools, Museums, Historic Sites, & Parks

For Immediate Release: June 26, 2017
Contact: Debi Duke,, Office: 845-229-9116, ext. 2035; Mobile: 845-242-4121. Photos and additional details available on request.

2016 institute by Bill Urbin, Roosevelt-Vanderbilt National Historic Sites

Hyde Park, NY – Speaking in Boston in October 1932, Franklin D. Roosevelt declared, “Knowledge – that is, education in its true sense – is our best protection against unreasoning prejudice and panic-making fear, whether engendered by special interests, illiberal minorities or panic-stricken leaders.”

At a time when civil discourse and mutual respect can be hard to come by, FDR’s thinking about education inspired the teachers and other educators who planned this year’s Teaching the Hudson Valley institute. Building Community with Place-Based Learning will be held July 25-27 at the Henry Wallace Education and Visitor Center on the grounds of the Franklin Roosevelt Home and Presidential Library in Hyde Park and sites throughout the Valley.

The program includes more than 15 workshops and five all-day field experiences. (Download a list of all presenters and programs organized by county or visit our website to see the schedule.)  Although the program is designed with educators in mind, anyone with an interest is encouraged to take part.

Larry Turk, superintendent of the Roosevelt-Vanderbilt-Van Buren National Historic Sites, notes that the National Park Service mission includes “revitalizing communities, celebrating and preserving local history, and creating close to home opportunities for everyone to get outside, be active, and have fun. “We offer this summer institute,” he added, “to encourage teachers and others who work with young people to use the many resources available in our region.”

Vinnie Bagwell at work. Photo by John Lewis.

Featured speakers are Gina Dellatte, a high school teacher at Newburgh Free Academy North, and Yonkers-based sculptor Vinnie Bagwell. Dellatte will open the three days with an interactive session, Mountain or River? Building Classroom Communities.

Bagwell is creating a sculptural rain garden to honor the lives and contributions of Africans who were enslaved at Philipse Manor Hall; she and storyteller Ty Gray-EL will share what they’ve learned about the lives of these individuals.

Extended field experiences held on the middle day are a popular feature of the institute. “I’m particularly looking forward to the field experiences exploring resources and revitalization efforts in Kingston and Newburgh,” said Scott Keller, acting director of the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area. “As a heritage area, we collaborate with communities to find ways to make heritage relevant to local interests and needs, and reaching teachers and students is key.”

Fees, including some meals, are $125 for all three days, $85 for two days, and $45 for a single day. Register here. Fees rise July 5. To get first choice of field experiences participants are urged to register immediately.

THV is happy to arrange interviews and provide photos or additional details.

About THV Launched in 2003, Teaching the Hudson Valley helps educators discover, appreciate, and share the region’s natural, historic, and cultural treasures with children and youth. THV fosters collaboration among schools, museums, parks, historic sites, archives, art galleries, libraries, and other physical resources and promotes the value of place-based learning.

THV’s collection of free K-12 activities and lesson plans uses significant Valley places to teach virtually all subjects. Grant programs make it easier for teachers to get students out of the classroom and into the community and have enabled thousands of students to visit heritage sites. The summer institute and other programs offer rare opportunities for school and non-formal educators to meet, exchange ideas, and collaborate.