Teacher Workshops & Other Programs

The Hard History Project: Call for Teachers

Grade Level:
Adult Education
Literacy and Language Arts,Science,Social Studies

The "Hard History Project" is an ongoing teacher professional development project at Salem Maritime & Saugus Iron Works National Historic Sites where educators collaborate to co-create classroom strategies engaging students with local "hard history." 
Watch a short video documenting the 2021 project pilot at Salem Maritime, which focused on developing strategies to teach the local history of African slavery.  

The 2023-24 Project

Participants will work with a team of National Park Service, The Hard History Project, and Indigenous educators to create new classroom strategies for teaching Indigenous history in Saugus and beyond using primary source documents, Native American artifacts, and traditional knowledge. 

Indigenous history is often taught as separate from or as an add-on to "American history." This project will use an integrated approach to address the intertwined histories of colonialism, British settlers, and Indigenous peoples. Working alongside Indigenous educators, teachers will identify strategies to teaching curriculum frameworks in ways that are inclusive of contemporary Indigenous peoples' perspectives. Participants will have an opportunity to share strategies with a national audience via videos and a webinar. 


Selected teachers will be compensated $1,500 for participating in the project. 


Participants will be asked to:
  • participate in 10 hours of online learning
  • collaborate with other educators to create a new teaching strategy
  • model the strategy with your class
  • observe and reflect on how the strategy worked with your class
  • participate in a filmed interview and teaching session and a webinar for educators
  • participate in a final, in-person teacher workshop in Saugus in May or June 2024
  • complete an exit interview and survey 
This project is managed by a team of educators who understand the demands of teaching. Its intended purpose is to provide teachers with learning experiences that are engaging and relevant but do not require a "heavy lift." 

Application & Eligibility 

We are looking for eight teachers to form a teacher group, particularly:
  • grades 3-12 teachers
  • teachers from Essex County, Middlesex County, and Suffolk County school districts
All interested teachers are encouraged to apply by completing this expression of interest form by October 16, 2023. 

About Saugus Iron Works & Why This Matters

Saugus Iron Works shares historical narratives from the 17th century all the way through the mid-20th century. Too often interpretations of these time periods in New England are dominated by stories of settler colonialism, the founding of the United States, and Northern abolition. And too often these stories are told from a single group's perspective or celebrate achievements while ignoring injustices. 
Another key dilemma in the popular narratives surrounding Massachusetts is that history "begins" with the arrival of English colonists and their "legal" settlement or ownership of Indigenous lands. But of course, Indigenous peoples and nations lived for thousands of years on land that would come to be occupied by European settlers. Ignoring the long history of Indigenous people prior to European contact is just one of the ways settler-colonialism operates in contemporary society. 

This project aims to highlight the stories of those who have been traditionally excluded from, or misrepresented within, mainstream historical narratives in Essex County and at Saugus Iron Works. As a unit of the National Park Service, we have a responsibility to incorporate diverse perspectives so that all members of our community may see themselves reflected in the stories we share. 
Indigenous peoples and cultures have survived, thrived, evolved, and resisted oppression and erasure across the Americas, including on land recognized as present-day Essex County. It's critical that we understand the connections between Essex County's history and modern-day Indigenous peoples and communities in order to combat erasure and stereotyping. 

It has also become increasingly clear that young people require an accurate understanding of history to understand and combat racial injustice. An honest account of settler-colonialism and its harmful legacies in New England is highly relevant, revealing a direct link to contemporary anti-Indigenous disparities. By critically engaging with historical narratives of Indigenous people, including genocide and the taking of land, we hope students can develop the skills necessary to thoughtfully engage in contemporary struggles for justice. 

Questions & Further Information 

Please email project manager Jarah Botello at jarah@upstanderproject.org

This project is funded in part by the National Park Foundation.

Last updated: October 11, 2023