Saeger’s Matt Van Horn Chosen as Mount Vernon Life Guard Teaching Fellow

Posted on 05/16/2019
Matt Van Horn

George Washington’s Mount Vernon has selected Saeger Middle School social studies teacher Matt Van Horn for a residential fellowship at the Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington. Van Horn is one of five teachers selected for this opportunity to enhance their 18th-century knowledge, explore different teaching techniques, and create educational resources that meet 21st century classroom needs.

Van Horn is honored to be selected for the Fellowship, calling it an unparalleled opportunity.Having access to their resources, as well as the experts in all fields of American History will strengthen what I do in my classroom on a daily basis,” said Van Horn. “In my classroom, I try to tell all viewpoints of the topics we cover, and this opportunity will allow me to go deeper into more viewpoints on history and not simply the ones that have been the easiest for society to tell.”

Through the fellowship research and creation of curriculum materials, Van Horn will be able to bring back to his classroom and school more about the daily lives of the enslaved population at Mount Vernon. Many of these stories are not often seen in history books, and share information about
the diverse slave culture that existed on George Washington’s plantation. As a Life Guard Teacher Fellow, Van Horn will have access to the extensive resources of the new 45,000 squarefoot Washington Library. He will also have the opportunity to connect and collaborate with Mount Vernon’s onsite experts in early American history, preservation, archaeology, and other relevant fields, as well as the scholars who frequently visit for lectures, research, educational programs, and other purposes.

In addition to his fellowship work this summer, Van Horn will be leading The George Washington Teacher Institute’s “Slavery in George Washington’s World” program at Mount Vernon. This will be his fourth year leading this program. He has worked with staff and scholars to develop and implement the Institute, in which 19 educators from around the country come to participate and explore the challenge of teaching slavery and race in today’s classroom. Van Horn helps teachers gain the knowledge and courage to create brave places within their classroom, as he does in his classroom community. The goal of these programs is to increase the understanding of George Washington, his legacy, and his role in the founding of our nation.

The Life Guard Teacher Fellows Program is facilitated by The Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington, which opened September 27, 2013. Located just outside the main entrance to Washington’s Virginia estate, the Library safeguards original Washington documents and serves as a center for scholarly research and leadership training. By offering funded residential study opportunities for classroom teachers and educators through its Library, Mount Vernon is taking an important step to improve the quality of history education, drawing renewed focus and interest on the founding era and on the remarkable traits and accomplishments of George Washington. 

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