Vermont Teacher Taps Lessons of Library of Congress

Vermont Bernie Buzz

Emily Kimball, who teaches fifth through eighth grade students in Burlington, focuses on engaging her students through the use of primary sources. She couldn't have found a better place to prepare for this fall's history classes on the Civil War: the Library of Congress.

She was selected from a pool of hundreds of applicants to earn a week-long spot at in the Library of Congress' program dedicated to training teachers from throughout the country on how to tap the resources of the nation's library to use in day-to-day lessons. She said she hopes to "bring the sources into the classroom. Get them engaged in learning."

Kimball, 28, works to find ways -- through primary sources like journal entries and photographs -- to bring history to life for her students. "They really engage well with photographs," she said.

Last week, during her session in the Library of Congress's Teaching with Primary Sources Summer Teacher Institute, Kimball says she found no shortage of resources to help bring her coursework to life. "I have found entire collections -- from prints and photographs to journals and diaries," she said.

Kimball is the only Vermont teacher to participate in Library of Congress' teaching seminars this summer. The program was highly competitive. There were just 150 slots available throughout the seven sessions. 

"We work with educators to help teachers use the digitalized primary sources of the Library of Congress to build instruction through student engagement and critical thinking skills," said Kathleen McGuigan,  the Library of Congress' acting director of educational outreach.

This summer marked the first year the Library held the program with a five-day program. "Our program spans K-12, all content areas," McGuigan said. "We have made improvements every year."

The Library of Congress was established by an act of Congress in 1800 and houses more than 144 million items, including the largest rare book collection in North America and the world's largest collection of legal materials, films, maps, sheet music and sound recordings.

"It is just rich with resources," Kimball said in a phone interview during a break in her sessions.  Aside from the resources of the library, itself, Kimball has learned teaching methods and innovative education approaches from teachers she met through the program, all of which she will incorporate into her lessons at the Baird School this fall.

Online resources: Learn more about the Library of Congress