Teacher Experts From Across the U.S. Share Their Insights and Experience at the National Education Summit

Among the speakers featured at this summer’s Smithsonian National Education Summit, classroom teachers from across grade levels and subject areas will share transferrable practices and insightful strategies with thousands of educator participants

Woman smiles at the center of a group with young children and their mothers showcasing books they created
Family Literacy Specialist Micheline Lavalle, center, of the Office for ESOL Services at Fairfax County Public Schools, gathers with a group of students and their families who participated in the program “La vida de/ The Life of” at the National Portrait Gallery. Lavalle will co-present with museum educators from the Smithsonian to share more about programming that used museum objects, artmaking, and storytelling to explore issues of migration, belonging, and community-building. Matailong Du

It is well known that learning doesn’t end in the classroom, and the 2024 Smithsonian National Education Summit is a perfect example of this. This summer, thousands of educators around the nation are stepping away from teaching to enjoy the summer season—and these educators are adding a twist to that. During this year’s Summit, eight online sessions will be headlined by inspiring teachers from across the U.S. They include teachers from states across the country, who are sharing lessons learned with fellow educators during this time off. There is no better place to get access to impactful resources, explore the Smithsonian, and network with other passionate teachers all while getting professional development certificates!

Here is some insight into a sampling of these virtual teacher-led sessions: 

Nurturing Multicultural Voices Through Art 

On July 16 at 12pm, EDT, join this virtual session with Fairfax County Public Schools teacher and Family Literacy Specialist Micheline Lavalle, National Portrait Gallery Youth and Family Programs Coordinator Beth Evans, and Smithsonian Office of Educational Technology Education and Engagement Lead Philippa Rappoport. These speakers will discuss how they’ve used museum resources to create programs that explore issues of migration, belonging, and community in multicultural classrooms while promoting important interpersonal skills. Michelline Lavalle shares that, for these families, the opportunity to create art in community and visit museums is “transformative, as it allows individuals to connect to one another, connect to their own cultural artistic traditions, find commonalities, and foster a deeper appreciation for museums.” During this program, these educators will provide resources and activities housed in the Smithsonian Learning Lab which can help facilitate similar activities within your multicultural classrooms. 

Annie Nguyen is a secondary ELA educator based in Austin, Texas who co-taught the first Asian American Ethnic Studies course in Texas. Nguyen will co-present with the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center and YURI Education Project about recent co-creation programming to create education resources centered in Asian American history and culture. Courtesy of Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center

Co-Creation: Sharing AANHPI Stories Together 

On July 16 at 12pm, EDT, join this virtual session with Round Rock ISD English and Asian American Studies Educator Annie Nguyen, Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center educator Mia Cariello, and YURI Education Project Educators Cathlin Goulding and Freda Lin. Hear from these educators as they discuss the co-creation model employed alongside a cohort of K-12 teachers during APAC’s National Education Program for Co-Creation. Learn how they leveraged the rich and diverse histories of AANHPI people to create new education resources to share with students in and out of their communities. This session gives participants the opportunity to learn more about the co-creation model and preview the resources which include cookbooks, zines, and maps. 

Leveraging Art as a Key Text in Our Classrooms 

On July 16 at 1pm, EDT, join this virtual session with 2023 Georgia State Teacher of the Year Michael Kobito, 2023 Colorado State Teacher of the Year Jimmy Day, 2023 Hawai'i State Teacher of the Year Michael Ida, and 2023 Delaware State Teacher of the Year Ashley Lockwood. These state teachers of the year will discuss how art has helped them keep their history lessons relevant to students. Learn about strategies they employed in their classrooms, resources they’ve used, and examples of how they’ve leveraged the arts to connect issues to contemporary topics for their students. 

Inclusivity in Environmental Education 

On July 16 at 1pm, EDT, join this virtual session with Prince George’s County Public Schools Science Teacher Lynson Ablaza, Smithsonian Affiliations' Alexis Kemp, and World Wildlife Fund educators Katy Fenn and Jessica Leung. These educators will discuss their strategies to create an inclusive learning environment that facilitates the exchange of ideas between students. Their nationwide collaboration has centered around youth environmental action and leadership. Knowing that students from diverse backgrounds provide unique perspectives makes the use of Diversity, Equity, Access and Inclusion (DEAI) in creating these settings of utmost importance. Learn more about considerations for language terms and activity types to create a setting where students can express their ideas and thrive. 

Creating Portraits of Community 

On July 16 at 2pm, EDT, join this virtual session with D.C. Public Schools social studies teacher Teya Green, Smithsonian American Art Museum educator Abbie Hitzemann, National Portrait Gallery educator Jocelyn Kho, and National Museum of American History educator Eden Cho. These educators will share how they use portraits, photography, and oral histories to tell the stories of overlooked figures and communities. Using these tools in a classroom helps students stay in touch with their communities and learn how to tell their stories in an impactful way. After this session, participants will be ready to introduce similar sessions in their own classrooms using strategies and digital lessons shared by these educators.  

Leveraging Digital Media to Support Civic Dialogue 

On July 16 at 2pm, EDT, join this virtual session with Cape Flattery School District instructional facilitator and English department head Dr. Katie Wolff, National Council of Teachers of English executive director Emily Kirkpatrick, and Rutgers University Graduate School of Education associate professor Dr. Nicole Mirra. These educators will discuss the Digital Democratic Dialogue (3D) Project, a collaboration spanning multiple years between university educators, K-12 English teachers, and the National Council of Teachers of English. The program aimed to support students from diverse backgrounds in sharing civic stories and discussing controversial issues with critical civic empathy. Educators will explain how this collaboration has helped connect students from around the country and championed their voices in civic dialogue.  Learn how this network formed and how it has impacted teaching for educators involved.  

Youth as Agents of Change in their Community 

On July 16 at 3pm, EDT, join this virtual session with East Jordan Public Schools educator and director of Title VI Angela Barrera, SITES Associate Director for Museum on Main Street and Community Engagement Carol Harsh, Kentucky Humanities Council Associate Director Kathleen Pool, and Cooper Hewitt Director of Learning and Audience Engagement Kim Robledo-Diga. These educators have experience leading community-focused projects with youth and are prepared to share their experience with session participants. Learn about challenges faced, best practices, and their project’s impact on the community. Participants will leave with a framework and toolkit to help engage students in becoming more civically engaged using design thinking and community conversations. 

Current Rockingham Early College High School History Club president and then secretary, Reid Wilson, with Educational Sectional Chief Jessica Pratt, who made a classroom visit this year. The History Club uses Smithsonian posters as recruiting tools and support materials to garner interest in participation. Their teacher Valencia Abbott will co-present with Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) at this year's Summit. Courtesy of Valencia Abbott.

Smithsonian Poster Exhibitions in Your Classroom   

On July 17 at 12:45pm, EDT, join this pre-recorded session with Rockingham Early College High School Social Studies and History Teacher Valencia Abbott, SITES Project Director Kathrin Halpern, and SITES Senior Scheduling & Exhibitor Relations Coordinator and Project Director Ed Liskey. Learn how Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) resources can help you engage students and spark curiosity in classrooms and cultural organizations. When reflecting on her teaching, Abbott shared that using these posters around the classroom helped to “create the atmosphere of walking into a museum, a place of discovery and wonder.” Let your voice be heard too, take this opportunity to let the Smithsonian know what topics you would like resources for in the future.  

This year’s Summit is sure to have something for everyone, so don’t miss out! This is a great opportunity to add to your teacher toolkit in preparation for the upcoming school year, all while learning from other educators and getting some professional development. To register for these featured sessions and explore other offerings led by Smithsonian educators and industry leaders, go to All virtual sessions will be archived and uploaded as well.