• Military historians host local educators

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  • Christopher Burnett | Staff Writer
    The Department of Military History of the Command and General Staff College hosted an open house Aug. 31 at Fort Leavenworth for area high school and middle school history teachers.
    Lt. Col. Christopher Johnson, an instructor in the Department of Military History, said the daylong event started with an interactive orientation that was intended to provide information and begin an educational dialog toward synergy.
    The visiting teachers came from Leavenworth Unified School District 453 and Lansing Unified School District 469 in Kansas, and West Platte School District in Weston, Mo.
    After the morning classroom sessions and lunch, the group visited the Frontier Army Museum and took a driving tour of the post, which ended at the Combat Studies Institute.
    Dr. Tom Hanson, DMH director, said the morning classroom session gave the visiting educators an overview of the Command and General Staff Officers Course history curriculum. He said it was important to present the scope of what CGSC does to the wider community.
    “This is an opportunity for (the teachers) to come on post and get a brief overview of the breadth of activity that goes on here — most of which is intellectual and not kinetic — then transmit that gained knowledge to their students, their colleagues and schools,” Hanson said.
    Hanson said he believed there were avenues available to bring the regional education community together on a recurring basis. The attending teachers also provided input as to how his department could help them, he said.
    “We received at least a dozen ways to help the teachers from their input during the discussions this morning,” Hanson said. “Their suggestions ranged from us offering our insights in constructing lesson plans to establishing an on-going mentoring program, as well as our collectively creating study groups in the individual schools.”
    Jerald Gross, a retired Army officer who now teaches eighth-grade American History at Warren Middle School in Leavenworth, said he had always wanted to be an educator. He said what he learned from the open house added another level of detail and context to his lessons about the local military installation.
    “We realize all of the resources the Department of Military History and Fort Leavenworth have to offer the community,” Gross said. “I’m hoping to bring back more insights (to my students) into the Revolutionary period, westward expansion and the Civil War.”
    Associate Professor Dr. Mark Gerges served as a docent and led the teachers on a guided tour inside the Frontier Army Museum followed by a tour of the post that included stops at the old U.S. Disciplinary Barracks and Memorial Chapel.
    “The teachers have experienced two classroom sessions that explored aspects of what we teach,” Gerges said. “Touring the post will also provide them a physical context and perspective to the changing aspects of history here.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Dylan Brown, 11th-grade U.S. history teacher at Lansing High School, said the open house was an opportunity for him to learn more about resources available at Fort Leavenworth.
    “We’ve seen things that can make history more interactive and would make history come to life for our students,” Brown said. “The department is trying to give us ongoing opportunities to bring some of these resources they have here, which are so close to our schools, to our kids.”
    Jennie Walthall, 10th-grade world history and 11th-grade English teacher at Leavenworth High School, said the visit to post was educational for her personally and professionally.
    “I have lived here for five years, and I didn’t know all of these things were at Fort Leavenworth,” Walthall said. “The open house provided a beautiful opportunity to see the resources that are available right here in our community to help educate our students.”
    The Department of Military History is one of the five teaching departments at CGSC. The department has the largest number of military historians of any faculty in the world.
    “This initiative came from our department seeking ways to meet the Chief of Staff of the Army’s intent to let the American people know more about their Army and perhaps shatter any one-dimensional stereotypes of the military (people may have) by showing a scholarly side of what we do,” Hanson said.
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