Education program allows students to embrace Marine Corps history

14 Oct 2010 | Sgt. Jimmy D. Shea

A 13-year-old girl sitting on the benches inside the National Museum of the Marine Corps sketches a Word War II fighter aircraft hanging from the steel beams and glass ceiling above. She dreams of one day becoming a Marine combat artist even though she was told it wasn’t possible. 

Through the NMMC Teacher-in-Residence Program, she was able to visit and learn about Donna Neary, a renowned Marine combat artist.

“That young girl went away with the idea that, yes, she could make her dreams come true,” said Anne Leighton, the National Museum of the Marine Corps’ education chief.

Moments like this became possible after the museum established the NMMC Teacher-in-Residence Program in 2008 to share Marine Corps history with students from Prince William County in Virginia.

“School is shifting into high gear and the National Museum of the Marine Corps is ready for the bus loads of eager students,” said Dr. Barbara Daniels, 2010 to 2011 National Museum of the Marine Corps’ teacher-in-residence.

The museum chooses a teacher each year from the school system to act as a liaison and develop curriculums and workshops to help teachers educate their students.

“It is exciting to provide these workshops using the museum resources that include historians and primary sources,” Daniels said.

The program touches mostly the Prince William County school system, but its reach extends far beyond the local area.

“We have had schools participate from across the country; Ohio, California, South Carolina, Georgia and most of the counties in the Commonwealth of Virginia,” Leighton said.

The program is important because it helps the education department of the NMMC build a network among educators and provide visiting school groups with a meaningful experience, Leighton said.

The Teacher-in-Residence program is also looking at other means to reach schools across the country.

“The education department is expanding our offerings to engage larger audiences of students,” Daniels said. “We intend to use the power of the Internet to support the mission of the museum. The virtual tour available on the museum web site provides a virtual walk through the museum along with a great number of ancillary materials that can be used to prepare for a visit or see the museum at a distance.”

The program has also created Marine Corps History Travelling Teaching Trunks, a resource for schools unable to send their students to the museum. This program allows the museum to send an education specialist to the school and teach Marine Corps history first hand.

The growing and successful program continues to find new ways of teaching Marine Corps history due to the cooperation of the teachers involved.

“We've had a tremendously enthusiastic reception from teachers - especially for our Teacher-in-Residence Teachers' Workshops for which teachers receive professional development credit,” Leighton said. “We have found that teachers who attend the workshops bring their classes back for visits and programs.”

The NMMC Teacher-in-Residence Program also supports other goals of the museum’s education department.

“The current program includes a national outreach component,” Barbara said. “The museum is currently sponsoring two programs – Art for Wounded Marines and The National Geography Week Poster Contest; both on the web site. Students across the nation and worldwide are encouraged to participate.”

The Art for Wounded Marines provides students with an opportunity to support those Marines they learn about while visiting the museum.

“We have kicked off a campaign to collect art for wounded veterans. Students are encouraged to create messages and pictures for the Wounded Warriors recovering at Bethesda Naval Hospital,” Leighton said.

For more information on the NMMC Teacher-in-Residence Program, visit   

Headquarters Marine Corps