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Fellows to Descend on Capitol Hill

This summer, in a not unusual sight, nearly two dozen high school teachers from across the country will descend on Capitol Hill.

These specially selected educators will leave their students behind to become students in their own right. They will take part in an effort to increase the public’s knowledge about history as well as the processes of the House.

As part of the 2007 House Fellows Program, the American history and government instructors will participate in one of two one-week sessions where they will attend seminars on House workings and sit in on various committee hearings.

“We have an internal program to teach [them] how to almost be a Congressional staffer in many ways,” said Deputy House Historian Fred Beuttler, who also is the program’s director.

The program was initiated in 2006 and aims to ultimately host one teacher from each Congressional district. Originally, organizers wanted to bring in approximately 45 educators during this year’s session, but budget cutbacks only left the program with enough funds to sponsor 25 instructors (the office expects to spend $1,400 to $1,500 per participant).

One of those educators is Elaine Tubb, a resource teacher for social studies in the Charles County public school system in House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer’s (Md.) 5th district.

“I thought it was an excellent opportunity to learn about the House of Representatives,” said Tubb, who helps oversee some of the schools’ legislative curriculum. “It is a great honor. I am thrilled about it.”

Spots were doled out based on the seniority of each district’s Representative, and teachers were selected from within the district based, in part, on teaching experience and a lesson plan they developed.

Beuttler said that little in the program had changed within a year’s time, but the 2007 program will have fewer public history seminars and more committee hearings than in 2006. It is expected to run the weeks of June 25 and July 30.

Tubb, who during a phone interview expressed great respect for the 14-term Congressman, said she had attended many such professional development sessions in the past and expected this one to benefit both herself and the school system’s 26,623 students.

“Just the fact that it improves my understanding will improve their understanding,” she said.

And if her experience is like those of previous participants, it should be an invaluable one, according to Beuttler.

“A number of them said it was the best professional development program they’ve ever been in,” he said about the previous year’s participants.

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