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Mars Hill College

Mars Hill College is a study in contrasts. Founded in 1856 for the people of western North Carolina, now the college attracts students from across the United States as well as Austria, Bosnia, Japan and other countries. In a region that is predominately white, nearly one third of the students are African American, Hispanic or Asian. Students come to Mars Hill College to play sports and to play music. The handmade bricks of Founder’s Hall and the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)-Certified Ferguson Math and Science Center are located just a few hundred yards apart on campus. The college's academic programs also reflect the merging of the traditional and the contemporary. Faculty and staff are conscious of both the core values of Mars Hill’s heritage and of the demands of the twenty-first century. The commitment to teacher education is strong at this college of only 1200 students, where more than 400 are education majors or are seeking teacher certification.

Conni Mulligan, Jane Milner Houde and other Buncombe County (NC) teachers learn about primary sources during a TPS-Mars Hill College workshop

Conni Mulligan, Jane Milner Houde and other Buncombe County (NC) teachers learn about primary sources during a TPS-Mars Hill College workshop.

The Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources program at Mars Hill College (TPS-MHC) began as part of the pilot program, An Adventure of the American Mind. Beginning with just 20 educators in 1999, the TPS-MHC program has grown to provide professional development to more than 1200 teachers and school library media specialists in the region. TPS-MHC has become a sought-after professional development provider throughout the area and continues to work with school districts to design and implement meaningful workshops. In collaboration with Brevard College, Montreat College and Western Carolina University, TPS-MHC developed and implemented a workshop series, “Primary Resources Opening Portals to Enhance Learning (PROPEL),” to engage school library media specialists as they use primary sources in their work with teachers and students. The TPS program at Mars Hill College has also incorporated primary source learning at the undergraduate level in the Teacher Education department and throughout the college. Pre-service teachers encounter primary sources in much of their coursework: the humanities rotation required of all students, social studies methods at the elementary and secondary levels, children’s literature, instructional technology, and as a significant component of the capstone course taken in conjunction with student teaching.

In the summer of 2009, the TPS-MHC Summer Institute focused on the contributions of children and adolescents in history. By studying the lives of children, K-12 students can see the connection between history and their own lives. “Connecting Children with Children” used a number of learning activities to model the inquiry process and the use of primary sources. Educators, including classroom teachers, school library media specialists and museum staff members, created lesson plans to enhance their curriculum as they teach about immigration, regional history and more. The four-day institute was very well received by the participants, including several PROPEL graduates. The educators appreciated the time and materials made available so that they could develop lesson plans and activities for the coming school year. All materials for the PROPEL program and “Connecting Children with Children” are available online: