“I figured, what if I teach history from the places where it happened?”

By Meghan Overdeep
September 09, 2020
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Between August 21 and September 5, Cathy Cluck, an AP U.S. History and AP European History teacher at Westlake High School in Austin, racked up nearly 4,000 miles living out her “Great American History Road Trip.”

The 27-year teaching veteran crisscrossed the country for 15 days, conducting virtual lessons from historical sites like Gettysburg and the Lincoln Memorial.

“This is something I’d never be able to do in a normal school year,” Cluck told Yahoo Life from a rest stop in Tennessee. “I was just trying to figure out, how can I make this school year interesting and fun for kids? I mean, I don’t know how to do [remote learning]. I wasn’t trained to be an online teacher ... So, I figured, what if I teach history from the places where it happened? Maybe that would at least make them want to log in to find out where their teacher is every day.”

Where possible, she devised a route that fit with her lesson plan. Cluck’s stops included the monuments in Washington, D.C., the settlements at Jamestown and Williamsburg, the Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, and the grounds where Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr met for their infamous duel in Weehawken, New Jersey.

She taught two classes from the foot of the Lincoln Memorial.

“I just pivoted my screen around, like, ‘Look, there’s the Washington Monument, there’s Lincoln,’” she recalled. “That was cool for me. I don’t know how cool it was for my kids. They said they liked it ... “

While it wasn’t always glamorous, it was always fun.

“I’ve had class from my car, I’ve had class from a battlefield, I’ve had class from rest areas,” Cluck told Yahoo. “As long as I have a hotspot that connects ... we’ve made it work, weirdly.”

She gave herself just enough time to get some rest and do some laundry before in-person classes resumed on September 8.

“15 days. 3810 miles. A crazy start to a school year,” Cluck wrote on Facebook at the conclusion of her journey.

More like crazy cool if you ask us!