WHA Conference 2013 – Tucson, AZ

On October 8, 2013, the TPS Western Region staff headed to Tucson, Arizona as the co-sponsor for the 53rd Annual Western History Association Conference. The conference also doubled as a regional conference bringing together past and potential TPS grantees to engage in rich conversations about the potential of TPS in their respective states and regions.

Further focus was given to improving last year’s presentation partnership model of collaboration between university professors and K-12 teachers. Thanks to TPS grant alum Linda Sargeant-Wood’s recommendations, the TPS Western Region worked with six teachers to develop primary source lesson plans based on the research of the professors. Much like last year’s partnerships, these K-12 teachers then worked to supplement the professors’ knowledge and research with lesson plans geared toward K-12 classrooms.

The WHA presentations in Tucson took place over two days and they were organized into the following sessions:

Using Tourism, Gender, and Race in the American History Classroom


  1. Professor Elaine Marie Nelson, University of Nebraska at Omaha
    Teaching Gender in the American West: Sex and Myth in the University Classroom
  2. Professor Cathleen D. Cahill, University of New Mexico
    Joining the Parade: Native, Hispanic, and Black Women and American Suffrage


  1. Kathleen Cusack, Catalina Foothills High School, Tucson, Arizona
    How to spark engagement and a little argument in the classroom: Using Primary Sources to Analyze Portrayal of Chinese in America
  2. Emily Martinez, Brown County High School, Nashville, Indiana
    What is Tourism?

Methodologies for Teaching Frontiers, Borderlands, and Imagined Places


  1. Jason Oliver Chang, Official and Unofficial Records of Ethnic Cleansing: The Expulsion of Chinese from Mexico
  2. Eric J. Morser, The Lost Tribe of Sicily: Iron Eyes Cody, Keep American Beautiful, and Imagined Indians in Modern America


  1. Mark Johnson, Concordia International School, Shanghai, China
  2. Emily Maass, Vail Academy and High School, Tucson, Arizona

Primary Sources All Around Us: Teaching Using Space and Place


  1. Annie Gilbert Coleman, Teaching Space and Place on Campus: Notre Dame’s Landscape at Work
  2. Leisl A. Carr Childers, Making Meaning of Maps: The Basics of Doing Spatial Analysis
  3. Flannery Burke, “Welcome Back Mother Nature”: Touring St. Louis’s Forest Park by Bicycle and Complicating Environmental Understandings
    (Presented by Leisl A. Carr Childers)


  1. Logan Brumm, Flagstaff High School, Flagstaff, Arizona
    Nation Within a Nation: Tribal Sovereignty and the Native American Experience

By the end of the conference we had received a lot of positive feedback on this new partnership model. Many of the educators in attendance remarked that the teacher’s contribution to the panels helped emphasize and clear up some of the professor’s more difficult material. The professors had some interesting realizations of their own. Many remarked that working with the teachers had shown them new opportunities for future research and how to improve their own pedagogical practices at the university level.

The TPS-WRC Reception took place the night of Friday, October 11th. This reception provided the opportunity for TPS grant recipients Amy Johnson from Longview, Washington, and Tina Melcher & Rachel Hernandez-Eckert from Texas to showcase the successes of their grants. Peggy O’Neill-Jones, director of the TPS-WRC, then presented on the power of connections the TPS-WRC has made the past five years through the various grants awarded. During the TPS Luncheon the following day, John Keener, Project Coordinator from MRESA3 in Montana, and Tom Ikeda, Executive Director of Densho, also gave presentations on the successes stemming from their grants.

This year we were able to further refine and improve the scholar/teacher partnership model for future conference presentations. We were also pleased to see the great work and success stories coming from our grant recipients. We are elated at the responses we’ve received from this conference and we look forward to incorporating aspects of it into workshops and conferences in the future. Stay tuned!

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