Missouri Passages: The Road Goes On…

The Road Goes On…

Contributed by Geoff Giglierano, MHC Executive Director


One of the most appealing aspects of the work that MHC does is that our efforts and partnerships often have an impact that extends beyond the scope of the original program or project.  In certain cases this is a carefully planned outcome of the original initiative.  For example, MHC is in a partnership with the Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum in Hannibal, helping to underwrite their annual teachers’ workshops.  The workshops, of course, are capable of directly benefiting only a relatively modest number of teachers each year.  The program, however, has an online element with lesson plans and teaching materials created by workshop participants over the course of multiple summers.  I went over to their website (which you may access here:  http://www.marktwainmuseum.org/index.php/education/for-teachers/lesson-plans), and selected one of the pieces at random, a lesson plan for Twain’s 1865 short story, Jim Smiley and His Jumping Frog, which was created by Becky Cohoon of the Daniel Boone Elementary School in Warrenton, Missouri during the 2009 Summer Teachers Workshop.

The list of lesson plans and teachers’ materials made available through the Twain Museum’s website is extensive, and thousands of teachers from across the United States (and in Europe and Japan) utilize this resource every year.  And, of course, that is exactly what was intended as an outcome of this program: that it would have an impact outside of the physical audience of the actual workshop, and that the good work done by a workshop participant in 2009 would still be accessible and useful for other educators in 2012 and beyond.

On the other hand, we also have instances in which MHC-supported programs and projects take on extended life spans through pure serendipity as well as careful planning.  A wonderful example of this is the local exhibit component created by the Caldwell County Historical Society to augment the Smithsonian traveling exhibit “Journey Stories.”   When Caldwell County hosted “Journey Stories” in 2010 through the MHC/Smithsonian “Museum on Main Street” partnership, one of their members, John Deis, utilized MHC consultant support and funding to develop a series of portable exhibit panels with stories from that region.  Today, those same panels are still being utilized on a consistent basis in various venues in Northwestern Missouri, long after the Smithsonian traveling exhibit has departed.

The ongoing impact of projects and programs like the Twain workshops or the local exhibit elements of “Museum on Main Street” are relatively distinct and plain to see.  But some other examples of how our efforts have longer-term effects are more subtle, or take longer to play out.  Such situations include our partnership with the State Historical Society of Missouri to support National History Day in Missouri, in which encouragement and inspiration are given to students who will be the “future practitioners of the humanities.”  We can also think of our early reading program, “Read from the Start,” in a similar way: by “fostering a love of books and an appreciation for the power of stories” for thousands of Missouri children, RFTS is laying the foundation for future interest in the humanities.

The theme of this issue of “MOPassages” therefore is about how the “journey continues” for projects, programs and initiatives that MHC has helped to set in motion with grants and other forms of assistance.  We hope that you will enjoy learning more about these activities of MHC and our partners, and consider how what we do today will have long-term validity and value “quite a ways down the road.”

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