The Life Guard Teacher Fellowship Program supports the creation of classroom materials and teacher resources about the life, legacy, and leadership of George Washington. Fellows live and study at the Washington Library on the grounds of Mount Vernon as they work to create educational resources that meet 21st-century classroom needs.

Learn More About Our Teacher Fellowship Program

Bonnie Belshe

Bonnie will be creating a series of lesson plans that will integrate women's history into the events of the American Revolution and the New Nation historical eras.  She will use Martha Washington as a case study with the support of Mount Vernon's rich primary sources in the library and the collection. 

She is a Social Studies Department Chair and teaches US History and AP US History at Monta Vista High School in Cupertino, CA.  She has been a three-time summer scholar for the National Endowment for the Humanities and was named the California History Teacher of the Year by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History in 2014. 

Micheal Larson

Micheal will develop a mini-unit of three lessons directed by the compelling question: “Did George Washington start a World War?”  He will collect primary and secondary sources for an analysis the role George Washington performed to the start the French and Indian War.  In the content rich activities, the students’ investigations take them through the many causes and consequences of Washington’s actions in 1753-54. 

Micheal has taught in the School District of Menomonie for the past twenty-two years.  He teaches U.S. History and Global Perspectives. His primary emphasis is the Colonial Era through the U.S. Constitution during the regular school year and the twelve eras of U.S. History for night classes and summer classes.  He is an Executive Board Member of the Wisconsin Council for the Social Studies and travels extensively to summer workshops and institutes on U.S. History.  

Nathan McAlister

Nathan will focus on George Washington’s Native American policy during his presidency.  He will identify documents, players, and events that will help students analyze what became the groundwork for the United States and Native American policy in the decades and centuries that followed. 

Nathan will be teaching Civil War and US History survey class at Seaman High School this fall and has lead his students in several award winning historical preservation projects. He currently serves on the board of several state and national organizations.  In 2010, Nathan was named Kansas and National History Teacher of the Year by the Gilder Lehrman Institute for American History. Additional honors include Educator of the Year by the Santa Fe Trail Association/National Park Service, Outstanding American History Teacher by the Kansas Daughters of the American Revolution, Gilder Lehrman Senior Education Fellow, and Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes, Fellow.

Matthew Shomaker

Matt will be developing a lesson where students will use clothing of the Washington family and the enslaved at Mount Vernon as a window into life on the estate.  Combining accounts, purchase orders, descriptions, probate lists, and material culture, this cross-curricular project will engage diverse source material to give students new ways to understand the operation of a Virginia plantation. 

Matt teaches 7th grade American History and History Lab at Clinton Middle School in Clinton, Missouri.  He also serves as Social Studies department chair, sponsors National Junior Honor Society, and provides professional development to building staff.  Matt is passionate about teaching with place and objects and has presented at multiple conferences, including the Missouri Council for the Social Studies and the National Council for the Social Studies.  He is an alumnus of the George Washington Teacher Institute and a 2016 Monticello Barringer Fellow.

Donella Smither

Donella will be creating an early elementary lesson plan that has students use inquiry and primary source materials to learn about race, slavery, and George Washington.  By integrating material culture sources, journaling, and reflection this project will be well-suited to introduce a difficult topic for young learners. 

Donella teaches 2nd grade at Alma Primary School in Alma Arkansas.  She has earned her National Board Certification and is an instructor in her school districts’ summer program.  Donella is an alumni of the Mount Vernon Teacher Institute where she took part in the inaugural week of Slavery in George Washington's World.

Reese Teacher Fellowship

This fellowship is awarded to a teacher who will connect high school students with print and handwritten primary sources to increase student engagement with 18th-century sources.

Teresa Osborne

Teresa will create lessons that provide students opportunities to examine the relationship between George Mason and George Washington.  These revolutionary contemporaries and neighbors provide a way to show how events of the revolution, the founding and the debate over ratification have an effect on lives and relationships in different ways overtime.

Teresa is currently the Department Head for Social Studies at Reynolds High School in Troutdale, Oregon and has taught courses including Advanced Placement Government, Economics, Advanced Placement European History, U.S. History, Modern World History and Media and Society. In 2001, Teresa was selected as the Oregon Council for the Social Studies High School Teacher of the Year. She has also developed curriculum for the Oregon History Center, Kinder Care Distance Learning, and has been an adjunct instructor at Portland Community College and Mt Hood Community College.

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