The Teaching American History Program

Mike Bruner, March 2004

To the Editor:

As a recipient of a Teaching American History (TAH) Grant, I was delighted to see the publicity and encouragement of that program that appeared in the article by Michael Ebner in the November 2003 issue of Perspectives. While I wholeheartedly support what he said, I would like to share some additional observations based on the experience of the program we have in Kansas.

Ebner's advice about integrating content and pedagogy is extremely important. In his case, his university seems to have faculty with a great deal of experience working with K–12 teachers. That is not the case with every university. I would suggest bringing experienced classroom teachers into the administrative plan. In our case I am the project director (I teach high school history) and my assistant director is a history professor who taught high school earlier in his career. We also have two of our teacher participants on the steering committee and their contribution has been invaluable.

I would also like to make a comment about the importance of quality partners. We are partnered with Emporia State University, the Eisenhower Presidential Library, the Kansas State Historical Society, and the National Council for History Education (NCHE). We chose our partners because of the expertise in history and experience working with both historians and K–12 educators. While most of our partners would not be a good match for most proposals outside of Kansas, the NCHE is an option nationally.

Like Ebner, many of us have received crucial guidance and support in our application from NCHE. In addition to working with the Department of Education to help shape this grant program, NCHE has been by far the most frequent source of independent advice for grantees, as well as the single most frequent participant in TAH projects. While the organization has not been able to join all the projects that have requested their participation, I believe that prospective TAH applicants should be aware of this valuable resource and consider contacting NCHE for advice before plunging into the application process. In the January 2004 issue of History Matters! (the council's newsletter), the NCHE has published an article by Allan Damon and Betty B. Franks, "Preparing a Professional Development Proposal," which includes a checklist for applicants. I myself would be happy to correspond with anyone interested in pursuing a project application or sharing our grant narrative. I may be reached at brunerm@usd413.k12.ks.us.

—Mike Bruner
Kansas Council for History Education