NEH Grant Supports K-12 Teachers Summer Workshops


Mary Sparacello

The New Orleans Center for the Gulf South in Tulane University’s School of Liberal Arts will hold two workshops this summer for K-12 teachers who want to explore the intersections of New Orleans music, culture, and civil rights.

Music Culture and Civil Rights

The week-long workshops, called New Orleans: Music, Culture, and Civil Rights, have been made possible by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and are part of the NEH Landmarks of American History and Culture Workshops for School Teachers program.

“This five-day experience starts at Congo Square and moves through the history of New Orleans’ musical forms and civil rights,” says Rebecca Snedeker, the Clark Executive Director of the New Orleans Center for the Gulf South.

The first workshop week—June 26-30—is geared to local and commuting teachers, and the second—July 10-14—is aimed at a national audience (housing is provided). “We're thrilled to be able to offer school teachers from New Orleans and around the country this opportunity to immerse themselves with a team of brilliant artists and scholars and this exploration.” Snedeker remarks.

The lineup is impressive, featuring Preservation Hall musicians and New Orleans culture-bearers such as Norman Dixon, Jr and Anthony Bennett, as well as prominent Tulane scholars, such as Courtney Bryan, Matt Sakakeeny, Emily Clark, and Bruce Raeburn, plus experts from other universities. Workshop co-directors are New Orleans-based jazz musician and educator Brice Miller, PhD, and Sonya Robinson, Director of Educator Engagement for Music Rising at Tulane.

Even though New Orleans music is regarded as being “celebratory and exuberant,” Miller says, a “deeper study of New Orleans music provides a fascinating window into how an environment of harsh social conditions and vast inequalities can be the genesis of beautiful cultural forms, and how the music can be rooted in seeking justice for all.”

Robinson is the instructional designer for the K12 Educator Resources in the “Learn” section of the Music Rising at Tulane website, one of its many captivating realms. In partnership with the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, she has led 1-day Music Rising Educator Institutes that invite teachers to engage with these curated investigations. The NEH workshops expand the 1-day experience into a 5-day workshop at Tulane University and several locations throughout New Orleans. Participants at the upcoming workshops will surely be invigorated by the mix of site visits and walking tours, which are paired with informative lectures, compelling discussions and reflection.

“Teachers give so much throughout the school year. These summer workshops are designed to be restorative and inspiring—a time for their own intellectual and ethical nourishment, which inevitably will flow into their classrooms.” says Snedeker.

A stipend is provided for K-12 educators who are selected to participate in the workshop as NEH Summer Scholars. 

Liberal Arts