Tales from the West Wing…
Hi! I’m Abby Krolik, and I’m interning this summer in the education department of the Jewish Museum. I’m actually a returning JMM intern–three summers ago, as a wee rising-college sophomore, I interned with Karen in the curatorial department (for more on that see “Chosen Food” before it closes–I’m even quoted in it!).
Last week, once orientation was finished, I spent some time familiarizing myself with past programs that the education department has used with school groups (usually in conjunction with temporary exhibits). I was probably only supposed to skim through the documents, but being an obsessive reader (and also very curious), I instead read almost every word. And I’m glad I did! I learned some very interesting facts. For one, I learned that, from the time of the Continental Congress onwards, various U.S. presidents have declared a “National Day of Prayer,” in which all citizens were encouraged to fast and pray to their God. In particular, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed January 4, 1861 as such a day, and I read excerpts from a sermon delivered on that day by Rabbi Illowy of Baltimore Hebrew Congregation. A second interesting event I read about in these lesson plans was a civil rights “play-in” by Jewish and African-American tennis players in the 1948! Pairs of Jewish and African-American men and women from the interracial political group, Young Progressives, tried to play tennis together at the Druid Hill Park tennis courts in a well-publicized attempt to integrate the public courts.
I also found the cards and rules to the game “Are We There Yet?”–a kind of Jewish “Oregon Trail” board game–and I’m hoping I can entice the rest of the department and/or the other interns to play it sometime this summer!
In the meantime, I’ve started work on my personal project, which is to create activity kits for teachers to use in their classrooms. These packs will focus on various themes covered in the museum–such as immigration–while simultaneously using object-based learning to teach analytical thinking skills to grade school students. Since museum education is the career field I’m trying to pursue, I am eager and excited to try my hand at creating my own lesson plans based on historical documents and objects!