Teacher-Ranger-Teacher 2011

TRT Steve Santucci participating in the Encampment at Jockey Hollow
Teacher-Ranger-Teacher for 2011, Steve Santucci re-enacting during an encampment event at Jockey Hollow as part of the 2nd NJ Regiment, Helms' Company

Steve Santucci

INTRO: Steve Santucci

I have been teaching High School History for the past 14 years, the last seven at West Morris Mendham High School. I have been interested in history since I was about 5 years old. I remember my first visit to a Revolutionary War park/museum. That first visit was in the winter of `84-85 and the place was Morristown National Historical Park. I remember the exhibits and the dioramas that depicted various scenes of that winter. As I entered the teaching profession in the late 90s I rediscovered Morristown National Historical Park through my participation with a revolutionary War re-enactment group and the encampment and activities that we provided. I have been involved in planning special events with re-enactors at the park including the 225th anniversary of the winter encampment of 1779-1780, as well as unique interpretive programs like rebuilding the soldier replica huts. I believe parks such as Morristown are important resources both to educators as well as the general public. I enjoy parks because they preserve what it may have appeared in the past, like a living snapshot of a moment in time.

As part of the time here as a Ranger I was exposed to some pertinent training such as Interpretive Training for new rangers. This was held at Edison National Historical Park. This included a history of the park service, a discussion of the Mission, and of interpretation of the park Mission and the site to the visitors. I found much of what was discussed and presented to be helpful for a classroom teacher of history as well as validating some of the historical practices I use in the classroom. I also had the opportunity to meet the Edison National Historical Parks Teacher-Ranger-Teacher and spend a day collaborating educational ideas. I returned to Edison NHP to work with the Teacher-Ranger-Teacher and two other Rangers on their education programming.

Park Ranger Tom Winslow and Teacher-Ranger-Teacher Steve Santucci examining a very unique original copy if Joseph Plum Martin's book based on his time during the American Revolution
Park Ranger Tom Winslow and Teacher-Ranger-Teacher Steve Santucci examine an original copy of Joseph Plum Martin's book.


Researching Original Documents

This past summer I have had the opportunity to work with a variety of personnel from interpretive staff and the curatorial staff. This afforded me an opportunity to delve into historical research that often as a teacher may not be able to conduct during the regular school year. With my mentor Ranger, Thomas Winslow, we scheduled time to work with a rare book published in 1830. This book is no ordinary rare book. It is the memoir of a Continental Soldier named Joseph Plumb Martin. The Park is home to this one- of-kind treasure and as a Revolutionary War re-enactor who is well versed in the modern publication of this book it was a treat to spend time reading the original and comparing it to the modern publication. Grammar, punctuation and spelling were some of the minor changes we noticed. We focused on the Morristown chapter of the book and noted that a sentence was omitted in the modern Acorn Press copy. Everything else was spot on expect for the above mention minor changes.

During the summer I had an opportunity to work with to seasonal rangers on a series of audio podcasts. I was able to utilize primary resources within the park as well as other depositories. Basing the podcasts and a variety of themes, three Rangers provided their voices for the different topics and passages. The goal of this project is to provide the visitor and student with a different way of learning about the encampment and the individuals who participated in that winter. The individuals ran from soldiers, civilians and officers including George Washington. Once made available via the website they can also be used in the classroom as a primary source. The long term goal is to create video podcasts covering various themes similar to the audio to give a visual sense of the encampment not always available to the visitor or student.

TRT Steve Santucci showing the Archival Ambassadors the layout of the camp at Joceky Hollow
TRT Steve Santucci showing the Archival Ambassadors the layout of the encampment in Jockey Hollow during the 'Hard Winter' and explaining the importance of natural resources used in building the huts


Archival Ambassadors

During the week the Archival Ambassadors were visiting and working this past July I was asked by the curatorial staff if I would lead a walk and tour of the recreated Soldier Huts. I focused the talk on the process that we have taken to rehabilitate the huts to more accurately portray the huts constructed in the encampment. I spoke to them about the decisions taken By Washington and his Quarter Master General in choosing a suitable location and spoke about the resources the army used. I also discussed how we as re-enactors and rangers went about researching the way in which the army used the resources of Jockey Hollow to build the huts. This provided me an opportunity to link historical research with living history and having the desired outcome of youth stewardship.

Helping Park Ranger Eric Olsen prepare for his always popular "Punch and Judy Show" at Saratoga National Historical Park during their annual colonial fair
Helping Park Ranger Eric Olsen prepare for his always popular "Punch and Judy Show" at Saratoga National Historical Park during their annual colonial fair

Steve Santucci

Visiting Saratoga National Historical Park

I took a trip to Saratoga National Historical Park with Park Ranger Eric Olsen. He was attending and performing during their annual Colonial fair. I was going to observe, assist and learn. My main objective was to speak directly to Park Ranger Joe Craig and learn from him how they developed and implemented a student immersion program. I am currently creating a Teacher immersion program that would provide them with real life experiences that will enable them to convey a much more personal style of instruction when it comes to the lives of soldiers of Washington's Army. The idea was spawned from one of my students parents several years ago when they said that I had a way of making the history come alive with such a personal knowledge that can only come from directly experiencing some of the activates performed by the soldiers. Discussing this idea with Joe Craig at Saratoga provided shared ideas and practices both sites will greatly profit.

Teacher-Ranger-Teacher Steve Santucci and other re-enactors are cutting and shaping wood to be used in the replica soldier huts they help to maintain
Teacher-Ranger-Teacher Steve Santucci and other re-enactors are cutting and shaping wood to be used in the replica soldier huts they help to maintain

Steve Santucci

Projects in the works

Though my time as a Teacher Ranger Teacher is coming to an end does not mean that my work here at the park is. I will continue to work as a volunteer to finish projects started such as the teacher immersion and also start new ones. I will work with Rangers to continue to develop and improve existing educational activities and programs and work with other components of the park to provide a greater experience for visitors and students alike. I am planning to put together a temporary exhibit of Hut building and soldier life at Jockey Hollow utilizing the museum collection of artifacts.

Last updated: February 26, 2015

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