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KNOXVILLE — The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, will help “teach the teachers” in three East Tennessee public school systems, thanks to a federal grant to improve the quality of American history teaching and learning.

The $285,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Education will be used for high-quality professional development for selected middle school and high school history teachers in Anderson, Sevier and Union counties.

The project, titled “Enduring Visions,” is a series of day-long academic mini-institutes during the 2010-2011 school year, longer training opportunities during the summer of 2011, and follow-up coaching for the teachers who participate. A total of 63 American history teachers in fourth, fifth, eighth and 11th grades will attend at least one of the sessions.

The UT Knoxville history department will provide the traditional American history content instruction during the mini-institutes and longer training sessions. The East Tennessee History Society will provide a project director, academic facilitator and support staff, handling the day-to-day administration of the program. Additional partners will provide resources including materials, work space and other assistance as needed.

The project has four goals:

  • To improve teachers’ knowledge, understanding and appreciation of traditional American history content;
  • To increase local school systems’ ability to offer professional development for American history teachers;
  • To increase teachers’ use of the founding documents of the U.S., as well as other educational tools and strategies; and
  • To increase students’ understanding of and proficiency in American history.

Additional program partners are UT’s Center for Children’s and Young Adult Literature, the Calvin M. McClung Historical Collection, the Knox County Archives and Tennessee affiliates of the U.S. Library of Congress’ “Teaching with Primary Sources” and “National History Day” programs.

This is the third major federal grant awarded for the UT-ETHS team.

“The program is an excellent way to build bridges between the university and Tennessee’s public schools,” said UT Knoxville history professor Ernest Freeberg, who is involved in the project. “Since 2003 we have been helping teachers develop their knowledge of American history, while engaging them in discussions about how best to translate this into good teaching. The teachers love to the chance to learn more, and we’ve been at this long enough to see that it is helping students to get a better grasp of their nation’s past. At a time when many are worried about how little students know about American history, this program has made a real difference.”

Following the conclusion of the project, all materials and resources will be shared with educators around the world at the website


Ernest Freeberg, UT Knoxville History Department (865-974-5421,

Tom Burman, UT Knoxville History Department (865-974-7082,

Lisa Oakley, East Tennessee Historical Society (865-215-8828,

Charles Primm, UT Knoxville Media and Internal Relations (865-974-5180,