History Instructor Lindsay Peterson was recently recognized by The Academy for Teachers and chosen to participate in The Academy’s master class: Immigrant New York.
Peterson crafted the curriculum behind Millbrook’s VIth form Immigration and Migration course, which has been taking students on a deep dive into the details of citizenship through the examination of historical events and topics since its launch in 2016.
“This started as a passion project for me,” says Peterson, who presented her idea for the course to her department four years ago out of motivation to “teach something that examines the often-forgotten voices of history.”
Peterson says that the course, which has become a sought-after offering, has “morphed a bit each year,” transformed by the many shared student perspectives, historical studies, and meaningful and passionate discussions that happen each semester.
Having participated in the master class led by Columbia University Associate Professor Rebecca Kobrin on immigration in early November, Ms. Peterson was able to implement some of her many takeaways from her experience immediately upon her return to campus. “It’s challenging to find professional development programs focused on immigration because it is a niche topic within the larger curriculum of history,” she says, “so when I learned that I was chosen to participate in this opportunity, I was very excited."
To prepare for the intensive, Ms. Peterson read assigned materials and then joined colleagues for morning workshops followed by “pedagogical potlucks” in the afternoon. “The potlucks were especially helpful because I was able to talk to other educators about how they are teaching this topic. I left with lots of new ideas to bring back to Millbrook.” While the topic of immigration seems more relevant today than ever before, Ms. Peterson reminds us that governments worldwide have been grappling for centuries with how best to handle immigration and the many challenges that come with it. “I enjoy working with my students and using history to build a strong foundation for discussion around this important topic,” she says. “It always comes back to discussing how countries can best balance their economic needs with human needs.”
With the fall semester coming to a close, Ms. Peterson will soon turn her attention to developing lesson plans for the spring semester that incorporate some of what she learned during the master class. "We focused a lot on the history and legal aspects of immigration in the fall," she says. "I look forward to using what we learned this past semester as the footing to discuss complex immigration issues, to collaborate in the classroom, and to brainstorm solutions."