Niagara Gazette

Communities

July 20, 2013

National Erie Canal workshop hosted by NCCC is a lesson for grade school teachers

Niagara Gazette — Grade school teachers from across the country will be attending Niagara County Community College this week for a workshop titled “Clinton’s Ditch: The Erie Canal in Western New York.”

The Landmarks of American History workshop is funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, which awards grants to museums, colleges and universities to help teachers refine their approaches to instructing students about American history and culture.

The workshop has 40 K-through-12th grade instructors learning about the canal, its construction, economic, social and cultural impacts on the United States through lectures and daily field trips to Syracuse, Camillus, Pittsford, Rochester, Buffalo and Lockport. According to the workshop schedule, N.E.H. “summer scholars” will spend two half-days, Monday afternoon and Wednesday evening, in the Lock City, taking in tours of the Erie Canal Discovery Center, Locks 34 and 35 and a canal cruise.

The workshop will be repeated the week of Aug. 4 for another 40 teachers.

NCCC is the only community college in the nation that received a Landmarks grant this year, according to Megan Stadler, director of the school’s grants office. The grant is worth upward of $100,000, as N.E.H. is paying stipends of $1,200 per summer scholar to cover classroom and field trip costs, food and lodging. About half of the scholars are staying in campus housing.

“It’s really cool that we’re able to do this,” she said. “Anytime the college can be on a national stage, that’s a good thing.”

The college landed the grant with help from Pierson Bell, a high school history teacher who’s just been hired by the Medina Central School District after teaching the past six years at Royalton-Hartland Central. At Roy-Hart, Bell taught an accelerated political science elective, accredited by NCCC, and last year Stadler recruited him to help write the Landmarks grant application.

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