This past December, Essex Heritage and Salem Maritime National Historic Site hosted National Park Service staff, community partners and teachers from Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, Maryland, and Massachusetts involved in the Park for Every Classroom (PEC) program for a 3-day workshop. PEC is a National Park Service program that trains teachers in place-based service learning, an educational approach that uses the local historical and natural environment as a context for learning and service.
The Essex County-based Park for Every Classroom program served as a model for the workshop as 7 local teachers who have created successful projects through PEC shared their insights with the group, and the effective PEC partnership between Essex Heritage, Salem Maritime National Historic Site and Salem State University. As the 20 visiting workshop participants learned about best practices in creating effective professional development for educators, they got a taste of Salem-based “special places” during the training, including tall ship Friendship, the Peabody Essex Museum, and the Salem Marine Society space atop the Hawthorne Hotel.
Essex Heritage and Salem Maritime will be working with 17 teachers and their students to develop and implement PEC projects over the course of the 2014-2015 school year in the following Essex County communities: Amesbury, Beverly, Peabody, and Swampscott. One teacher participant noted about the PEC program, "I started teaching in 1981. This is the best class I have taken yet to get me excited about the school year—thank you. It is nice to do something for the community, not just your class."