Congressman Faleomavaega announced that today his office hosted group of 21 teachers and administrators from American Samoa who were in Washington, D.C. as part of the Teaching American History (TAH) program. Also accompanying the group were three family members of the TAH participants: Tamiano Gurr, Liana Gurr, and Fueainaula Young as well as Mr. Jack Bareilles and Ms. Anne Harlin, both are history teachers from California.
The TAH group arrived in the morning at the Congressman’s office where Faleomavaega’s staff led them to a guided tour of the U.S. Capitol. The tour started with the group viewing of a film documentary chronicling 200 years of American history and the construction of the U.S. Capitol. The group then visited the U.S. Capitol Rotunda, Statuary Hall, the Crypt of the U.S. Capitol, and finally the Exhibit Hall in the Capitol Visitor Center. The tour ended with a photo opportunity on the steps of the U.S. Capitol, followed by lunch at Congressman Faleomavaega’s office. The group then departed for a visit to the National Museum of American History.
The Teaching American History (TAH) trip is part of a 3-year grant program that centers on specialized enrichment for teachers of U.S. History. For the past two years, teachers in American Samoa participated in a series of classroom courses – many which took place on the weekends. The courses helped teachers to develop U.S. History content knowledge and teaching strategies to improve classroom instruction to students in the Territory.
TAH Project Director, Donna Gurr, who also serves as Assistant Director of the American Samoa Department of Education’s Office of Curriculum, Instruction and Accountability (OCIA), stated that the TAH trip helps “bring history to life” for teachers of U.S. History.
Mr. Jack Bareilles who was as an external evaluator for American Samoa's TAH grant, coordinated the study tour, from New York City to Washington D.C. Prior to the tour, Mr. Bareilles contacted historians at each site in an effort to provide the teachers with educational materials, lectures, and workshops on-site to enrich their teaching of U.S. history. Mr. Bareilles and Anne Harlin presented educational videos and lectures on the bus as the educators traveled from city to city.
The trip, which began in New York City and ended with the July 4th Independence Day celebration in Washington D.C., introduced teachers to historical sites and attractions such as the Statue of Liberty, Ground Zero, and Ellis Island in New York; Constitution Center, Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, and Gettysburg in Pennsylvania; and Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown, Mount Vernon (President George Washington’s home), and Monticello (President Thomas Jefferson’s home) in Virginia.
Two major highlights of the trip took place at Arlington National Cemetery where the group participated in two wreath-laying ceremonies, one at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and one at the grave site of Army Private Jonathan Ioakimo Falaniko, as representative of the Samoan soldiers who were casualties of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars and buried at Arlington National Cemetery which include Master Sergeant Tulsa Tulaga Tuliau and Staff Sergeant Loleni William Gandy.
In addition to their visiting historical sites, TAH teachers also benefitted from being able to gather extensive resources to take back to their classrooms, including access to electronic resources provided by various educational centers along their trip, videoconferencing opportunities, and valuable websites for teachers as well as students.
“I would like to extend my congratulations and deep gratitude to all of our teachers and educators who visited my Washington, D.C. office as part of the Teaching American History program, Faleomavaega said.
“While I was unable to meet in person with the TAH participants due to a speaking commitment at the grand opening ceremony for the new ASTCA office building in Tafuna, I am proud of their accomplishments in not only a successful educational trip to the East Coast, but also for the many hours they invested prior to their trip in improving their curriculum content and teaching strategies. U.S. History is a central component of our education curriculum in American Samoa and it is a great benefit for our U.S. History teachers to be able to witness our nation’s historical landmarks in person so that they may better convey historical themes and concepts in the classroom,” Congressman Faleomavaega stated.
“I thank all of the TAH leaders, including Project Director Donna Gurr, for their efforts in coordinating this exceptional program. I also thank our TAH instructors for providing excellent curriculum development to our teachers. And last but not least, I thank all of our teachers for their commitment to education and their efforts to continuously improve U.S. History instruction for our students in American Samoa. I commend all TAH participants for their dedication and admirable service to our people,” the Congressman concluded.
The following is a list of TAH leaders, and teachers who visited the Congressman’s Washington, D.C. office.
Teaching American History (TAH) Participants
1. Donna Gurr, Project Director
2. Matt Toeaina Le’i, Project Coordinator
3. Mene Tauaa, TAH Instructor
4. Pisavale Tialavea, TAH Instructor
1. Hana Maloata
2. Ulumanu’a Ta’au’au
3. Steven Misaalefua
4. Faanoi Mose
5. Pamata Von Dinklage
6. Rosaline Saifoloi
7. Poto Atafua
8. Toe Ufiata Matai
9. Faimeaso’o Tuiafono
10. Tasila Tasila
11. Donald Mataese
12. Tamara Tialavea
13. Leetha Faoa
14. Alofagia Young-Alopopo
15. Pete Tui
16. Edmund Amataga
17. Stephen Young