Brown County teacher aims to learn/teach more about WWI

Emily Lewellen; photo courtesy of Indiana Historical Society

Brown County High School teacher Emily Lewellen has been selected as one of 18 educators from across America selected to participate in “Memorializing the Fallen,” a teacher professional development program from National History Day.

Sponsored by the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission and the Pritzker Military Museum and Library, the program is designed to take Lewellen and other educators on a journey to rediscover the history of World War I and invigorate its teaching in classrooms across the nation.

“World War I is oftentimes glossed over as simply a stepping stone to WWII,” said Lewellen. “With that glossing over comes the brushing aside of important stories that would help students connect with the past. Through the Memorializing the Fallen program, I will learn firsthand the stories of the men and women who fought and died in the trenches and battles of WWI, allowing me to humanize this history for my students. I am incredibly excited to learn this impactful history and apply it in my classroom, as well as in my community.”

Throughout the Memorializing the Fallen program, teachers will attend virtual lectures, participate in discussions and research a service member who never returned home. Lewellen’s service member is Private Ray Griffin of Brown County, Indiana. Griffin was a member of the 16th Infantry Regiment, 1st Division.

In June 2019, Lewellen and the other educators will venture to Europe, making stops at Somme American Cemetery, St. Mihiel American Cemetery, Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery and Oise-Aisne American Cemetery, where Pvt. Griffin is buried. They will visit battle sites and monuments, and on the final day of the program, teachers will attend the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Versailles at the Palace of Versailles.

The Indiana Historical Society says that each activity will support the development of the final products the teachers will create: a lesson plan and a “Silent Hero” profile. The teachers also will develop in-depth lesson plans to focus on the legacy of the conflict. Both the lesson plan and the fallen hero profile are slated to be released during the 2019-2020 academic year.