The Civil War Teacher Institute

Outstanding professional development from the Civil War Trust

03/30/2013  |  BY NICOLE OSIER
experiential learning

While you may have never heard of the Civil War Trust, it’s possible that you or your students may have used the organization’s webpage or, if you have ever been to a Civil War battlefield, you may have stood on the ground the Trust saved.

The Civil War Trust is America’s largest non-profit organization devoted to the preservation of our nation’s endangered Civil War battlefield. In addition to land preservation the Trust provides education and educational resources on the American Civil War. Over its 12 year history, the Trust has saved more than 34,000 acres of battlefield land while developing the most robust web offerings on the history of the war.

Being committed to education, the Trust’s largest and longest running educational program is its Teacher Institute. Now in its 12th year, the Teacher Institute Series provides educators with the tools, knowledge, experience and resources they need to effectively teach the American Civil War, and believing in interdisciplinary education, all educators who work with the K12 audience are invited to attend.

In a unique twist that is not often seen in professional developments, the Trust views the attending educators as experts in their field who deserve the utmost in respect and are held to the highest expectations. During the Institute, the Trust provides the historical content, learning environment, historians, primary source materials, and experience at historic sites that helps educators develop outstanding materials, lessons, and programs for their own institutions.

The National Teacher Institute, this year being held in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, is a four-day professional development opportunity held annually at different locations, but always focused on a specific battle or battles. Past institutes have focused on battles such as: Antietam, Fredericksburg, Nashville, Franklin, and Fort Sumter.

The Regional Teacher Institutes are two-day professional development opportunities held several times throughout the year in a variety of locations. Regional institutes focus on the teachers of a certain region and the resources that are available to them locally. Regional institutes have been held in such locations as: Boston, Los Angeles, Gettysburg, Chicago, Petersburg, and Antietam.

During the Institute, teachers attend multiple workshops focused both on content and instructional techniques. Teachers also take part in historian-led lectures and attend specialized Civil War site tours.

Some of the most renowned Civil War historians participate in the Institute such as James McPherson, Gary Gallagher, Ed Bearss, Bud Robertson, Bob Krick and Peter Carmichael. The Trust’s Director of Education, Garry Adelman, is himself a leading historian and one of the most sought after battlefield tour guides in the country. All teachers get the opportunity to meet and interact on a personal basis with these historians.

Through the Institute, teachers receive invaluable knowledge about the Civil War, take away hundreds of resources, earn re-licenser credits, receive expert advice on teaching this challenging topic, and come away with a personal experience on the land the Trust has preserved.

The Teacher Institute is offered free of charge to K12 educators. For many teachers the only costs will be their travel, lodging and a few meals. However, scholarships are available for a number of teachers at each institute, covering their travel and lodging costs.

To register for a Teacher Institute please visit There you will find both the National and Regional Institute.

Past Attendees

“To be someplace where teachers are challenged to be better, but treated as valuable resources is the shot in the arm of sunshine that every educator needs. Thank you so much for this — I will put it all to use!” says Sarah Muraski, Middle School, Wisconsin.

“This is one of the best programs I have ever attended. The presenters were extremely knowledgeable and engaging. I learned something and am excited to take it back to my classroom and share it with my students,” said Rick Caragher, High School, California.

“I came into the institute with very little background knowledge of the Civil War and left with a much higher level of appreciation and awe of what took place. Thank you all for such an amazingly educational experience!” says Emily Jefferis, Middle School, Florida.

“The entire institute was excellent. This has been a premier professional learning experience. I believe you have struck an appropriate mix of haunting battlefield experiences, insightful educational sessions, and provided reliable historic resources,” said Charles Phillips, Middle School, Georgia.

“This is the finest educational experience available. The passion of the faculty and staff - infectious. The quality of the presentations — superb. The opportunity to network and share with fellow educators — priceless,” said George Stahler, Elementary, New York.

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