Teacher explores Bermuda's centuries-old ties to the US
A Bermudian teacher has completed an immersion programme in a chapter of American history that features a strong Bermudian storyline.
The training last month for Shayla Morton, a teacher at Francis Patton Primary School, came through a partnership between the US Consulate General, the Bermuda Government and the Babcock American History Scholarship programme.
Ms Morton attended the Bob and Marion Wilson Teacher Institute of Colonial Williamsburg in Williamsburg, Virginia — seven miles from the Jamestown settlement, which was founded in 1607 and was the first permanent English colony in the United States.
A British presence was established in Bermuda two years later when the Sea Venture, the flagship of a fleet en route to Jamestown, was shipwrecked on the island.
Ms Morton was chosen after an open call for applicants to attend the immersive training on American heritage from July 23 to 29.
The Teacher Institute imparts techniques for participants to pass on their learning and bring history to life for students.
Ms Morton said that she was grateful for the “amazing” training, which included visits to the historic sites and meetings with historians and character interpreters.
Karen Grissette, the US Consul-General, said: “I am thrilled to support education exchange opportunities between the United States and Bermuda.”
Ms Grissette said she had worked this year on building partnerships on the history of US-Bermuda relations, including Sir John Swan, the former premier, Owen Darrell, the Minister of Youth, Culture and Sport, and members of the Jamestown Rediscovery Foundation board.
Discussions on expanding US-Bermuda education opportunities led historian Carol-Ann Babcock to add Bermudian teachers to the Teacher Institute and the Babcock American Scholarship, in light of the island’s deep ties to Jamestown.
For ten years, Ms Babcock has funded the Babcock American History scholarship for teachers from Fairfax in Virginia — but this year she included a Bermudian teacher.
As well as covering the cost of tuition, she financed airport transfers between Richmond and Williamsburg, hotel stays and meals.
Ms Grissette added: “This is a first for Bermuda, and we look forward to continuing this partnership next year.”
She thanked Mr Darrell along with Diallo Rabain, the education minister, noting that the Bermudian Government had covered airfare costs between Bermuda and Richmond, Virginia.
Mr Rabain said: “The Government of Bermuda extends gratitude to the US Consulate General and Carol-Ann Babcock for their support of our dedicated educators within the Bermuda public school system.
“Their commitment to providing professional development opportunities will empower our teachers to foster optimal learning environments for our children and shape a brighter future.”
Mr Rabain said he looked forward to a second cohort in the summer of 2024.
Ms Morton, who has more than 14 years of experience teaching, holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Winston Salem State University in North Carolina.
Colonial Williamsburg has a tradition of educational outreach over more than 70 years.
The Teacher Institute, developed to improve the teaching of American history, was established in 1990, and more than 10,000 teachers have taken part.
The Babcock American History Scholarship is open to educators from private and public schools engaged on US-Bermuda historical studies.
• To apply for the 2024 Bob and Marion Wilson Training Institute of Colonial Williamsburg, e-mail Haleycs@state.gov for further information