World War II and the nuclear bomb are topics people are aware of still today, but the details can get lost without continued study of the history involving the events and people of the time. Christy Davis, a seventh-grade teacher at Pepperell Middle School, is focused on learning more about the people and events to share with her students in class. Davis seeks to bring the culture and people of Asia and the events of World War II alive in the classroom for her students. She does this from her own experiences in summer workshops she has been selected to attend from Pearl Harbor in Hawaii to the High Museum of Art in Atlanta. The workshops, sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities, have taken Davis to Hawaii twice, the University of Colorado, Ohio State University and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
This summer, Davis will add Spokane, Washington to her list of summer learning opportunities as she has been selected as an NEH Summer Scholar and will participate in a week-long workshop at Gonzaga University and Washington State University. The N.E.H workshop titled “Atomic West/Atomic World” was limited to 40 participants. It is an honor for a teacher to be selected to participate in an expense-paid workshop. Participants get to learn from experts in their selected field, published authors, and people who lived through major world events. “I love learning the stories of these areas and hearing the accounts from those who lived through these events because it appeals to the storyteller in me,” Davis said. “I don’t teach my class from a textbook; instead, I’ve been able to teach using the stories I have learned in my weeks of study during the summer breaks.”
In this summer workshop, Davis will experience the history behind the development of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington state. This was part of the Manhattan Project during World War II and a crucial site in the race to develop the first atomic bomb. As a primary site of plutonium production for atomic weapons, Hanford played an instrumental role in ending World War II and beginning the Cold War nuclear arms race that would dominate American foreign policy and politics for decades to come. Despite its importance in American history, the Hanford site has been shrouded in secrecy. The workshop will take participants deep into the once top secret spaces to investigate the scientific, social, and environmental history and legacies of the atomic west.