Read the original article in the Albany Democrat-Herald here.
Colleen Pallari (left) has never been so excited about doing summer homework.
The North Albany Middle School social studies teacher is among a group of about 20 Oregon teachers selected to attend the Civil War Summer Institute later this month.
She’ll spend 11 days exploring battlefields, museums and exhibits in Virginia and Pennsylvania thanks to a grant from the Center for Geography Education in Oregon, based in the geography department at Portland State University.
Jeremy Gibson of Lebanon High School and Ryan McWayne of Centennial Elementary School in Scio also have been selected to make the trip, which runs June 21-July 1.
Pallari has taught social studies, health and language arts in her eight years as an educator. This is her first year at North Albany.
“I think one of the things I’m most excited about is this is my first year doing eighth-grade social studies, so I’ve never taught about the Civil War,” she said. “To be able to see these battlefields firsthand and read the diaries of soldiers and really get a glimpse into what life was like in this time period and in this part of the United States is just, I think, going to be incredibly beneficial for my understanding of the Civil War, especially the human aspect of it.”
Everyone categorizes the war as having been between the North and the South, but Pallari said she’s learning so much more went into that geographic division besides the Mason-Dixon line.
One of her pre-trip homework projects involved exploring the idea of “central places,” a location that prompts people to gather to exchange goods, services and ideas.
In Civil War times, she learned, northern states had more central places than did the South, which gave them access to factories. That meant more efficient production of supplies, ammunition and other big-ticket items necessary to keep troops going than were available in southern states.
“Even just being assigned this one assignment has opened up my eyes to how much geography came into play in the Civil War,” Pallari said.
The grant is paying for nearly every aspect of the trip, although Pallari took the option of paying a little extra to earn four graduate-level credits through PSU.
She’s looking forward to finding ways to incorporate more about the geography in her lesson plans.