Smithsonian Hosts 56 Teachers of the Year to Inspire Learning With  Digital Museum Resources

Smithsonian and Council of Chief State School Officers Celebrate 10-Year Collaboration

The Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access will host the State Teachers of the Year May 2 for a day of professional learning focused on using digital museum resources with students in creative and innovative ways. These exemplary teachers represent the best in the profession in each state, U.S. extra-state territories, the District of Columbia and the Department of Defense Education Activity. For 10 years, the center has worked closely with the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) to bring the annual “Teacher of the Year Day at the Smithsonian” event to life as part of CCSSO’s National Teacher of the Year program.

This year’s event, sponsored by Annenberg Learner, features a series of hands-on, collaborative sessions for teachers throughout the Smithsonian. The professional development workshops demonstrate how teachers can use the museums’ digital resources available in theSmithsonian Learning Lab with their students to improve engagement and learning. Following the event, Teachers of the Year can continue their work with the center to advise on and co-develop instructional resources, including creating model collections in the Learning Lab for other educators to use and adapt to fit their needs.

“For 170 years, the Smithsonian has been dedicated to exploring the world around us and sharing our discoveries with learners of all ages,” said Smithsonian Secretary David Skorton. “For the past decade, our successful partnership with CCSSO through our annual ‘Teacher of the Year Day’ has been instrumental in helping us turn Smithsonian resources into innovative instructional tools that teachers across the country can use to engage, enlighten and inspire.”

Skorton will deliver opening remarks before the State Teachers of the Year embark on activities with educators from the Smithsonian at the following museums:

·      Freer and Sackler galleries

·      Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden’s ARTLAB+

·      National Air and Space Museum

·      National Museum of African Art

·      National Museum of American History

·      National Museum of American History’s Lemelson Center

·      National Museum of Natural History

·      National Portrait Gallery

·      Smithsonian American Art Museum

·      Smithsonian Libraries

During the event, Smithsonian educators will model interactive lessons that teachers can bring into their classrooms through online resources and tools as well as provide inspiration and support for teaching. Activities include a curator-led tour of the “WONDER” exhibition at the American Art Museum’s Renwick Gallery with demonstrations on using visual-thinking strategies, exploring how a forensic anthropologist’s scientific research was translated into a school program in which students analyze bones to solve a mystery and learning about the invention process at the National Museum of American History’s Spark!Lab, where the teachers will prototype a product of their own in a design challenge.

“CCSSO is devoted to supporting great teaching through the National Teacher of the Year program, and our collaboration with Smithsonian over the past 10 years has enriched the professional learning of more than 500 state teachers of the year,” said Chris Minnich, executive director of CCSSO. “I applaud the Smithsonian’s commitment to engage the expertise of teachers of the year in the development of the Smithsonian Learning Lab, but the benefit of the collaboration extends far beyond the teachers of the year, enabling learning resources from the Smithsonian to be available to all teachers across the country.”

The Smithsonian Learning Lab, launched in beta in the fall of 2015, is an engaging digital destination for teachers, students and lifelong learners to discover primary resources, create personalized learning experiences and share their creativity and knowledge with others. The website brings together more than a million resources from across the Smithsonian’s 19 museums, nine major research centers and the National Zoo, and more. To learn more,

About Smithsonian Institution

Since its founding in 1846, the Smithsonian Institution has been committed to inspiring generations through knowledge and discovery. The Smithsonian is the world’s largest museum and research complex, consisting of 19 museums and galleries, the National Zoological Park and nine research facilities. There are 6,400 Smithsonian employees and 5,400 volunteers. There were 28 million visits to the Smithsonian in 2015. The total number of objects, works of art and specimens at the Smithsonian is estimated at 138 million, including more than 127 million specimens and artifacts at the National Museum of Natural History.

About the National Teacher of the Year Program

The National Teacher of the Year program, run by the Council of Chief State School Officers and presented by Voya Financial, identifies exceptional teachers in the country, recognizes their effective work in the classroom, amplifies their voices, and empowers them to participate in policy discussions at the state and national levels.



BREAKING: Department of Education Publishes Names of Institutions Receiving Right To Discriminate Against LGBT Students

Department of Education answers HRC’s call to action by publishing list of educational institutions who have received an exemption from federal law seeking the right to discriminate against LGBT students

WASHINGTON – Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, praised the U.S. Department of Education for helping to increase transparency and accountability by publishing a list of educational institutions who have received an exemption from federal civil rights law in order to discriminate against LGBT students. HRC first called on the Department of Education in December to take action in light of this growing and disturbing trend by some religious colleges and universities.

“We commend the Department of Education for answering our call for greater transparency and helping to ensure no student unknowingly enrolls in a school that intends to discriminate against them,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “The alarming and growing trend of schools quietly seeking the right to discriminate against LGBT students, and not disclosing that information publicly, is what spurred our call for greater transparency. We believe that religious liberty is a bedrock principle of our nation, however, faith should never be used as a guise for discrimination.”

Released by the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR), the list of educational institutions published today can be found here.

HRC first called on the Department of Education to take action in a comprehensive report released in December called Hidden Discrimination: Title IX Religious Exemptions Putting LGBT Students at Risk. In the report, HRC spotlighted 56 colleges and universities based in 26 states across every region of the country – which collectively have nearly 120,000 students – that have requested religious exemptions under Title IX since 2013. These institutions have utilized a little-known provision in the law that allows educational institutions controlled by a religious organization to request an exemption from full compliance with the law if “application of the law would conflict with specific tenets of the religion.”

In the report, HRC specifically called for:

  • The Department of Education to require schools to publish comprehensive information about the scope of the exemption they received, the characteristics or behaviors to which the exemption applies, and the way in which Title IX still protects students;

  • The Department of Education to regularly report which educational institutions have been granted Title IX religious exemptions, the scope of those exemptions, the characteristics or behaviors to which the exemption applies; and

  • Congress to amend the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) governing statute to require OCR to annually report the number of Title IX exemptions that were requested, granted, and denied.

While the Department of Education has little discretion to deny these requests for exemptions, HRC believes religiously controlled educational institutions should not be exempt from full transparency.

LGBT students face discrimination and harassment at an alarming rate. According to a 2010 study, lesbian, gay, and bisexual college students are nearly twice as likely to experience harassment when compared with their non-LGB peers, and are seven times more likely to indicate the harassment was based on their sexual orientation. In the 2011 National Transgender Discrimination Survey, one-fifth of transgender students reported that they were denied gender-appropriate housing, and five percent reported outright denial of campus housing. LGBT college students also suffer from higher rates of sexual assault and misconduct on America’s campuses; transgender and gender nonconforming students report one of the highest rates of sexual assault and misconduct.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. HRC envisions a world where LGBT people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.