Evaluations (2015)

Comments (selected) from 2015 seminar participants:

Overall Evaluations:

This was a fantastic experience. I learned so much about research and the use of primary sources. I especially liked the week we spent in Washington DC at the various agencies and government buildings. I will be able to return to school in the fall having a greater understanding of how to go about research and believe that Tom’s idea of creating an informational poster along with the verbal presentation was a great idea. I will probably do that with my students this year since it worked so well. I enjoyed my experience and hope to do another NEH seminar next summer.

The experience I had at The Spanish Influenza was life-changing. I fully anticipate it to enhance my ability to effectively utilize primary sources in the classroom, to the benefit of my students. I also have a much deeper understanding of The Spanish Influenza and its context in history. As far as my scholarship is concerned, I was intellectually challenged on numerous occasions throughout the seminar and was invigorated to keep learning and growing as an intellectual. This is particularly beneficial to me as an individual because my intellect has not been adequately nourished teaching in a high school setting. After taking this seminar, I now want to go back to the academic world and pursue either another Master’s Degree or a PhD at some point in the near future.

This was a very interesting and engaging seminar. I have several ideas that I intend to implement in my classroom once the new school year begins and I feel much more confident teaching this topic with my students. I am certain that it will be engaging for them and will pique their curiosity.

It was a great experience that balanced lecture, seminar, site visits, research, and more.  I will use what I learned in this seminar in 4 different classes this year.  I also plan to continue researching this topic and possibly publishing an article on it.

Having the author of the primary text (Nancy Bristow) attend the seminar was valuable.  We also received a wide variety of visiting faculty members from various disciplines.  The director, Tom Ewing, set the tone for the 3-weeks (professional but congenial, intellectually stimulating, but time to relax with colleagues).  Tom did a marvelous job as director and I hope he hosts a seminar again.  The topic was even better than I expected and almost every scholar participated enthusiastically.  Although traveling from Blacksburg to D.C. to Blacksburg appeared to be a lot of packing/ unpacking when I first read the program, it made sense once we started our research project.

I feel that this experience will impact my classroom through being able to implement Chronicling America, and the other databases into a format that is available to students as primary resources.  I will definitely consider computer poster design into my classroom.   The primary source tools that I learned from Gus Teller and the Library of Congress will definitely guide me through teaching all aspects of American History.

The program was well run and taught me how to do research in the Library of Congress and National Archives. It also made me stretch as a professional because I had to create posters and a presentation for a large audience.

I now know how to truly use primary resources.  I thought that I had a basic grasp on how to do this but after taking place in this seminar I realize that I was woefully underprepared.  The depth that will come from having this particular skill will profoundly impact my teaching.  My students will have the opportunity to be exposed to these primary sources and form their own thoughts based upon data that they have uncovered.  They will have real world data as justification.  To me, this is one of the highest levels that we can ask our students to operate at… On a scale of 1 to 10 I would rate this as a 9.5.  This was truly an amazing program.

I will definitely be infusing my curriculum with materials from the seminar this year.  The Spanish Influenza seminar has also provided me with an opportunity to plan collaboratively with the history teacher on my grade team.  I believe that this summer’s session has extended the length of my teaching career, having reinvigorated my intellectual interests at a crucial turning point.

This is the most memorable research experience of my life. Having access to the primary documents from 1918 and reflecting on their importance provided a depth of understanding lacking in other settings. I would highly recommend this seminar to any teacher interested in infectious diseases or history. Thank you Tom!!! I cannot wait to introduce the students to the primary documents I found, have them discover articles in Chronicling America, and assist them to find meaning in the methods and madness of dealing with the 1918 influenza.

This workshop was a wonderful experience. The topic was fascinating, and it was obvious that Dr. Ewing had spent a great deal of time carefully planning and organizing the curriculum, field trips, and guest speakers. I definitely learned researching techniques. In addition, any opportunities that teachers get to broaden their perspective trickles down into the classroom. The information I learned during this seminar will help me in my English and history classes. As we learned, the Spanish influenza is known as the forgotten pandemic, so as educators, we need to teach our students about this important global event and its ramifications on the future.

Project Director and Visiting Speakers:

Tom was an outstanding director – incredibly easy to talk to and amazingly helpful in any issue we had. The people he had come to talk to us were very knowledgeable and interesting and their presentations were helpful and informative. I liked the discussions that we were able to have as a group. He had things very well organized as far as our overall schedule and the daily one.

Tom was an awesome director. He is very knowledgeable, patient, and interested in engaging with teachers. He set up a great schedule that was busy enough to keep us engaged, but left room for exploration and discussions as needed and wanted. Nancy Bristow was an excellent visiting faculty member who was kind and as interesting as her book. Everything was very well organized and well thought out. I particularly enjoyed some of the research site visits in Washington D.C. and really enjoyed Dr. Taubenberger’s lecture.

Director was professional at all times.  Dr. Ewing was clear in the expectations of the program and gave us time to complete our projects.  Visiting faculty were excellent and I felt enriched after every lecture-Gus Teller, Nancy Bristow, Jeffrey Taubenberger, Matthew Heaton, speakers were great! Colleagues were professional, project centered, and creative.  The topics were interesting and thought provoking.  Discussions were clear and concise.

Dr. Tom Ewing did an amazing job of organizing, trouble shooting, and interacting with all of the participating scholars.  Most of the guest speakers were interesting and engaging.  Scholars were given the opportunity to discuss with the speakers.

Tom Ewing was an amazing director. He has clearly put an extensive amount of time into organizing and planning this institute. From selecting meaningful readings, visiting scholars, and coordinating the research opportunities in DC, everything was thoughtfully planned and executed. I particularly enjoyed the discussions we had with visiting faculty Bristow, Teller, and Dr. Taubenberger. I literally could not stop talking about our discussion topics and what I learned, even at meals and in the evenings. I am still going through withdrawal I think now that I am back in the “real world.” Overall, I also think I had great teacher colleagues who were there to learn along with me and engage in discussion. I felt like I had a good support system to help me successfully complete the program. Lastly, I think the topic and discussions around the topic were moving. The fact that certain historical events have been largely overlooked, despite their striking significance to humanity, is an intriguing question. By looking at that question from a variety of interdisciplinary lenses allowed for rewarding and thought provoking discussions.

There was an enormously diverse group of speakers and scholars that worked with Dr. Ewing.  There was something for everyone.  Some of the speakers that I thought would be the least useful to my project, gave me some of the best perspectives.  I truly enjoyed meeting the decision makers of public health policy which was only possible because of Dr. Ewing’s vast network of relationships.  The Archive experiences I had will forever be highlights of my academic career.

Tom Ewing provided us with a rigorous research experience.  He opened doors to institutions (the NIH, National Archives, etc.) that few of us had known how to access previously.  Dr. Ewing also connected us with like-minded researchers who took a genuine interest in our work.  He was conscious of the need to build a sense of community among the scholars and did an impeccable job of actualizing that sense of community.

Tom was friendly and calm throughout the seminar. He went above and beyond to help us, make us comfortable, and provide us with the best speakers and research opportunities possible. I fully appreciate the hard work he had to do. The seminar was well organized. The scholarly articles he had bound for us were wonderful, neatly done, and even had numbered pages. I will use some of these articles in my classroom this fall. It was great to meet and hear from Nancy Bristow after reading her book. I loved the article about newspapers in the early 1900s… I found my best resources at the LOC and National Archives II but loved hearing from the speakers at NIH and GWU. All in all, I would not change a thing. I appreciated that resources were already pulled for us to delve into at LOC and Archives II. Time was a real issue so having the boxes, books, files on the time period helped a lot.

The director was a perfect fit for this undertaking. He demonstrated a great interest in the subject matter and a strong desire to share that information and learning opportunities with teachers.  The guest speakers were also excited about the chance to share with teachers. The structure of the activities allowed for selection of a study topic that was of personal interest.

My favorite and most productive day in DC was when we went to the National Archives, and I got the opportunity to read original letters and Red Cross records from 1918 – 1919. It was a real honor to meet Dr. Jeffrey Taubenberger, and hear about his cutting-edge viral research. In addition, it was great to not only read Nancy Bristow’s book, but also have the opportunity to meet and talk to her.

Dr. Ewing did a great job. He was flexible about making adjustments due to time constraints (removing the written component of the final assignment). The poster activity and presentations were a wonderful cumulative activity.

Facilities, Classrooms, and Accommodations:

Virginia Tech was a wonderful host and the dorm room was comfortable.

VT was very welcoming, comfortable, and helpful, as was the Blacksburg community.

Virginia Tech had a great small-town atmosphere.  The dorm rooms at Virginia Tech were comfortable. The library room was handy with the multiple screens.  The librarians and archivists were extremely helpful.

Virginia Tech went above and beyond to make sure we felt welcomed…Housing arrangements were perfect, private room and bathroom.  Dorm was quiet and allowed summer scholars to be able to complete their work.

The housing facilities at Virginia Tech are very nice.  I appreciated the fact that we were in the same dorm during our stay at Virginia Tech.  This gave us an opportunity to get to know each other better. The library meeting room was ideal because of the access to large screen tv monitors.  Both campuses provided free internet access.  Director Ewing also set up a reception for us during the first week of the seminar.  This was well attended by university faculty and city administrators.  We saw these people outside of the seminar setting as well and their hospitality was extended to us.

The host institution was wonderful. Housing at VT was everything an adult could ask for in a dorm. Housing at CUA could have been a little nicer with private bathrooms, but I did appreciate the cost and accessibility of campus to the metro. The computer and library facilities at VT were also fantastic. The multi-media room where we spent a great deal of time had numerous screens to be able to view visuals and allowed for engaging discussion.

The hosting facility at Virginia Tech could not have been more accommodating.  Although there were some slight dorm issues with regards to noise at Catholic University every effort was made to take care of this issue in a timely matter.

The Virginia Tech facilities were top notch, libraries, dorms, and dining facilities included.

Exemplary. Virginia Tech, all the staff, faculty, housekeepers, dining hall employees and the city of Blacksburg went above and beyond to make us feel comfortable, well-fed and welcome.

The institutional support was also outstanding.  The rooms were perfect for this type of undertaking and we had a chance to explore the holdings at some of the most important research libraries in the world.