Revolutionizing Educational Programs & Field Trips

Photo of skype tours at the boston tea partyIn February of 2012, I was brought onboard to assume the formidable task of creating and developing the Education Program for the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum. Since opening, the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum has been very popular with educators. Schools from all over the world have traveled to Boston to capture the spirit that sparked a revolution over two centuries ago. The Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum brings the movement for independence alive with engaging performances by live actors, and emotional reenactments of the events that took place the day the Sons of Liberty stood up against Parliament’s Tea Act. But Chris Belland, the CEO of Historic Tours of America wanted more. This could not be more evident when one day he pulled me aside to say “Sean, I want our Education Program to become part of every teacher’s curriculum.” Further, it was always the dream of our Executive Director, Shawn P. Ford to educate all students about the Boston Tea Party, and the American Revolution. This indeed would be a daunting task!

Photo of skype tours at the boston tea partyFor this task, I knew I would have to count on the support of our Creative team led by Evan O’Brien, Creative Manager, Josiah George, who brings fifteen years of production in theatre and opera performance to the table, and Kelly Horan-Galante, who has a background in stage performance, and education. Together, we set to work. Our first challenge was to make sure that schools throughout the world would have the opportunity to visit us, regardless of their ability to travel. To make it easy on teachers, we created the Virtual Skype Experience which brings the struggle for independence to students without forcing educators to dole out permission slips, or coordinate travel arrangements for their students. Most importantly, when we hang up our call, the teacher is free to delve back into the curriculum, and even reinforce the material we covered during the experience.

Our next project was to bring our actors into schools that could not afford to come to us. With this in mind, we developed the Outreach Performance which brings Paul Revere, Samuel Adams, and Sarah Bradlee Fulton into auditoriums, classrooms, and cafeterias throughout the state of Massachusetts. The challenge in this project was to bring everything the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum has to offer into the classroom. Just like the Museum Experience, and the Virtual Skype Experience, the Outreach Performance is interactive, and students actively participate as colonists who were in Boston during the era of revolutionary protest. In fact, they even play a role in the performance by acting out the events that pushed Boston down the road to revolution.

Photo of skype tours at the boston tea partyWhile we wanted to capture the emotion and interactivity of our Museum Experience, we also had a desire to advance State Standards which are covered in classrooms throughout the United States. In creating the Virtual Skype Experience, and our Outreach Performance, we endeavored to connect the dots of Common Core State Standards by reenacting the events that forced the actions and reactions of the British government, and North American patriots alike. To better prepare students for the curriculum covered in class and our three educational experiences, I created lesson plans which are accessible through the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum’s website, and are free to all.

photo of actor at a school during an outreach tourAs we go forward, we continue to challenge ourselves to create educational opportunities which will advance the concepts taught in the classroom in an exciting, and engaging way. With regard to education, Benjamin Franklin summed up our mission perfectly when he said “Tell me, and I forget. Teach me, and I remember. Involve me, and I learn.” We continue to follow the wise words of our founding father, and we strive to make our Education Program a part of every teacher’s curriculum.