Today’s post comes from Reagan Library Education Department staffer Brett Robert.
Saturday June 18, 2016 we were fortunate to have a wonderful group of educators from Los Angeles Unified School District visit us at the Reagan Presidential Library. The event featured continuing education workshops by Kieley Jackson, Coordinator of Secondary History/Social Science Education at LAUSD, and Linda Kidd, Coordinator of Elementary History/Social Science Education at LAUSD. Alongside those workshops the Reagan Presidential Library staff were able to offer these educators the rare chance to take part as participants and players in the Situation Room Experience.
Click here to register for our Situation Room Experience Open House for Educators July 21, 2016 and have one of the first chances to apply for our bus scholarships.
The wow factor of the facility for the Situation Room Experience is hard to convey via the written word. The purplest of prose fails to produce the same feeling as sitting at the table around which Presidents convened their most trusted advisors at key moments in our nation’s history. This setting, and the opportunity for participants to put their hands on history in a way that is usually discouraged in museums, helps immerse participants in the simulation. For our staff at the Reagan Presidential Library, it has been fun to see how the Situation Room Experience has transformed our test groups from their everyday lives into dynamic heroes of the Beltway as they tackle a crisis. The effect has been the same with teachers, students, and even groups of our staff and museum docents.
The teachers we spoke with after the simulation noted that the stressful nature of the Situation Room Experience is actually one of its strengths. “The level of rigor,” was what convinced Amy Benn, who teaches U.S. and World History and Honors History courses at South Gate High School, that she is “definitely going to try to be one of the first” to bring her students to the Situation Room Experience in the coming school year. Ms. Benn and Jeff Kash, who teaches History at Madison Middle School in North Hollywood, both noted the stress of the Situation Room Experience.
“It was very stressful, but in a good way. I thought it would be so enlightening for the students to see there’s a reason we’re always pushing them to think for themselves and be critical thinkers. Because it’s just a real life experience, and this really forces them to do that, but it’s interesting, it’s engaging,” Amy Benn, U.S. and World History Teacher, South Gate High School.
Having spent years developing the Situation Room Experience it is exciting to finally share what we’ve built with the community of educators in Southern California. Hearing enthusiastic responses from teachers who can’t wait to bring their students and watching their faces light up during the debriefings of our open houses has been a pleasure. One of the latest big developments has been securing limited funds for bus scholarships. We understand that funding is often the only obstacle facing enthusiastic teachers who would move mountains for their students.
Thanks again to all of the presenters and attendees from Los Angeles Unified School District for spending the day with us here in Simi Valley. We look forward to seeing you all again, either inside the Situation Room or at another workshop!