New York, Europe on tap for Holy Trinity teachers


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Mary Carson Wouters, left, is heading to New York to attend the Broadway Teachers Conference this summer and Lara Duguid will tour historic sites in Germany and Poland with the Holocaust and Jewish Resistance Teachers’ Program.

photo by George White

The summer break will fulfill two very different educational dreams for two teachers at Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy, one in Europe, the other in the bright lights of Broadway in New York City.

The school supports its teachers by partially funding their attendance at workshops in their field of study. The programs not only help the teachers with advanced studies and knowledge but also give them a chance to be around other passionate and driven educators.

Lara Duguid, who teaches Holocaust history, will tour historic sites in Germany and Poland June 29 to July 14 with the Holocaust and Jewish Resistance Teachers’ Program. Partially funded by HTEA with Duguid paying a third, the trip includes visits to several concentration camps, museums, ghettos and other sites. Cities on the tour include Frankfurt, Hannover, Berlin, Krakow, Lubin and Warsaw.

“I am working on my master’s degree in Holocaust and Genocide Studies from Gratz College and they recommended the program to me. This is an experience of a lifetime. I have been teaching Holocaust history for 17 years and working on my master’s in this area for four years without taking a summer, fall or spring off. I finally get to see, touch, feel the history I have been learning and teaching about first hand,’’ she said.

Duiguid has led two student trips, including Europe in 2010 with a stop at the Dachau concentration camp, and a 2013 trip to France, Belgium and Germany which included tours of the Buchenwald concentration camp and other World War II Holocaust sites.

Her former school in Jacksonville sent her to Belgium for a learning opportunity and workshop on the European Union (EU) and European history.

Duguid said she will use information and experiences from the 2015 summer trip for her master’s thesis and to enhance her teaching skills.

“I had to apply through an extensive, selective application process. I have had a lot of reading in preparation for the trip. Nothing in my education will be as important, meaningful and significant as this opportunity,’’ she said.

Theatre teacher Mary Carson Wouters, who will perform throughout June in the Melbourne Civic Theatre’s production of “Picnic,” will get off stage just in time to travel to New York City July 12 to 15 for the Broadway Teacher’s Workshops.

The program includes master classes with Broadway performers and attendance at four Broadway shows followed by discussions with the cast. Shows include “An American in Paris,” “The King and I,” “Kinky Boots” and “Something Rotten.” Special guest for the conference is Broadway legend Chita Rivera, she said.

The trip came about because Wouters noticed that Holy Trinity students have had access to a similar program as a fine arts trip including Broadway workshops, she said.

“The students have had amazing opportunities to explore the incredible arts culture in New York City. I thought it would be wonderful if they offered something like that for teachers as well so I did some research and found the Broadway Teachers’ Workshop. I approached Cyndi Buist who heads our professional development and she was incredibly supportive and thought it was a wonderful idea,’’ she said.

The benefits of teachers participating in workshops will pay dividends for years in terms of better understanding of the business and its challenges and opportunities at the highest level, she said. The result will be new ideas for lesson planning and teaching and better directing ability for productions, she said.

“I feel incredibly blessed to be a part of a school that focuses so much effort into personalized professional development that will have the strongest impact on a teacher’s classroom,’’ she said.