Evaluations of 2015, 2014 and 2011 Rochester Reform Trail NEH Landmarks of American History and Culture Workshops:

Session 1: July 10-16, 2016

Session 2: July 17-23, 2016

Director: Jose R. Torre

Excerpts from anonymous reviews of the Rochester Reform Trail Landmarks of American History and Culture Workshops solicited by the NEH:

2015 Evaluations

  • "The experience was everything I hoped for and then some. The program helped to draw connections between many of the important ideas, concepts and people I teach about. I also have fresh ideas and resources to bring back to my colleagues and students to enhance teaching and learning for all."
  • "The director did a wonderful job organizing the program. Everything from the organization of the program, the speakers invited to participate, the field trips and even the meals were well thought–out, planned and coordinated. Each visiting faculty member was engaging as a speaker and as an academic historian. It was wonderful to be able to meet, interact with and network with teachers from around the country who share a similar passion for teaching and for the Reform Trail content."
  • "I had an amazing experience! When teaching about movements in the future, I can share my experiences about visiting the homes of Anthony and Stanton with my students. I can also show how the abolitionist movement and the women's rights movements interconnected, and how they are related to the north."
  • "This program was eye opening for me. I learned so much about the role of Rochester and the contributions of central New Yorkers to the reform process. I will use all the information I learned in my teaching. This will change the way I teach abolition, women's rights and temperance. It will engage my students in the learning of these topics much more and will help to interest them in the area where they live."
  • "The director could not have been more professional and well organized. He did an excellent in getting wonderful scholars to share their knowledge with us. The trips were perfect in length and scope and added so much to our learning. The topics were all relevant to our state curriculums and the discussions were deep and thought provoking."
  • "The director and visiting faculty were extremely knowledgeable and delivered the information with ease and kept us engaged. They were open and welcomed questions in the group settings as well as individually. The topics coincided with the assigned readings that furthered the connections to the lectures and discussions. The topics of the workshop were relevant, fascinating, and provided great discussions during and after the lectures."
  • "Being my first NEH workshop, I could not be more pleased with my experience. This was a fantastic week! I learned so much about a topic that I knew very little about. I teach some Frederick Douglass in my English classroom, but now I have a much deeper understanding of him and of his connection to the women's rights movement. I am going to be able to use the speeches and ideas of all of the reformers in a much more complete way in my English classroom."
  • "The director was extremely organized and provided everything we needed to have a great time. The visiting faculty was knowledgeable and entertaining. They answered any questions we had. Everything was perfect–director, faculty, colleagues, organization, discussions and activities. This is the 4th NEH Landmark that I have attended and it was absolutely the best one that I have been to."
  • "Director – – Dr. Torre is the perfect host; approachable and understanding – would have liked to have him as a professor. He gives you his thesis and his historiography but will let you disagree. The university professors were from regional colleges and outstanding. We had lecture, followed by a seminar or a themed discussion. Everything made sense, we learned about the topic before and then went to see the site and knew about what we were examining. I can't say enough of how this will change my teaching about the topic of REFORM."
  • "I can't thank Dr. Torre enough about enlightening my to women's rights, abolition and the Erie Canal. My students will be the beneficiary of this knowledge and Rochester will be one of my new focal points. Wow! There were so many, and they were excellent! For example, to be in Susan B. Anthony's house and to be able to visualize the work she and so many others did made concrete with what had previously been abstract. The workshop was logically designed around the landmarks so that the lectures segued flawlessly into the landmark exploration."
  • "Overall, the Rochester Reform Trail Landmarks Workshop was outstanding. The week was rich in highly engaging lectures and experiences about the people and events of the Reform Era. It has given me so many resources and ideas to go beyond enhancing what I already teach. With the information I gained, I hope to redesign several units in my existing curriculum putting Rochester and it's citizen–activists at the center of the unit to demonstrate changes in democracy, U. S. economic development, religious and social reform, attitudes towards abolition and westward expansion."
  • "The landmark sites we visited in this workshop were highly effective in demonstrating the significance of the people and events of Rochester Reform. Seeing the Genesee River, High Falls and the Erie Canal drove home the impact of both the geographic feature and the subsequent manmade feature on the lives of the local people and the shaping of several national movements. The visits to the Wesleyan Church and the homes of E. C. Stanton and S. B. Anthony added remarkable depth to my understanding of who these women were, and their deep commitment and connections to other reformers. Despite the fact that there was only his grave to visit, Frederick Douglass's connection to the homes was very emphasized at these sites as well. It was chilling (in a good way) to literally touch the places that these amazing people touched. The Erie Canal tour showed the immensity and importance of this project in the 1800's and the reasons for its short usefulness. The Mt. Hope Cemetery Tour was fascinating as a look at not only the historical individuals but also the local culture of the era. All of the guides on the tours were exceedingly knowledgeable and engaging in their "story telling." "
  • "Dr. Torre is an outstanding educator with a very engaging lecture style in which he invites discussion and questioning. He is clearly passionate about his studies and was always ready to provide more details and more food–for–thought to the NEH scholars. I thought he did an excellent job of organizing a program that built on itself throughout the week. The visiting faculty were all highly engaging as well and made strong connections to what we had already learned and what we had yet to learn. Each contributor seemed to know the entire scope and sequence of the week so that their contributions flowed together. I appreciated the daily lecture and Q and A sessions in the mornings followed by the afternoon field trips. It was a great balance of information interspersed with experiences that I think promoted greater inquiry and on–topic discussion between participants thus resulting in a very high level of learning in a short period of time. It was a wonderful experience! The visiting professors were so knowledgeable and great at answering our questions. I feel like a lot of the information could be translated directly into my classroom. Fantastic! We covered the variety of reform movements that occurred in Rochester and influenced our nation. My school was actively considering dropping Women's suffrage from our curriculum – no more after this."
  • "I am currently working on lesson plans where 6th graders will use original documents (modified) to look at both Abolitionism and Suffrage. This was probably one of the best institutes of its kind (of any kind) in which I have participated. It was well–run and thought out and proceeded in a logical, building fashion. I will be utilizing all information in my work with the state's social studies teachers."
  • "The whole experience I had with NEH's Rochester Reform Trail was amazing. It truly exceeded my expectations and provided me with an incredible week of learning, travel and making connections with other teachers from all over the country. I look forward in my work with homeschoolers to share the information I learned when they are studying American history. I also plan on encouraging the families I work with to visit local landmarks and make more use of primary sources."
  • "Joe Torre was a wonderful director. He was friendly, organized, helpful, fun and a great leader. Each of the visiting lecturers he arranged to have speak to us were so knowledgeable in their specific field which brought so much depth to our learning. At the end of each morning, Joe and the visiting professor had a dialogue about the topic, along with discussion from our group. The last morning, meeting with our grade levels to discuss ways to use what we had learned in our classrooms was very helpful. I appreciated all the readings we were given ahead of time. That made the learning come alive. Thank you for sending the readings and the book to us before we arrived!"
  • "This institute definitely emphasized depth over breadth and I so appreciated that as a teacher of high school AP history. So often at these week long institutes I find myself overwhelmed by the sheer volume of material that I find almost impossible to figure out what to do with since it is a topic that I'm only able to spend about 30 minutes on in a class period and I just received 75 hours of instruction on it. This seminar examines its topic deeply and from a variety of perspectives and it was done purposefully and masterfully. This variety of perspective and various (and often conflicting) historiography is also incredibly valuable as an AP History instructor. This workshop was fabulous. I was so pleased to learn that it has been funded again next year –– I can't wait to tell my colleagues and friends to apply! As an English teacher, I was happy to hear so many wonderful stories about Frederick Douglass, Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton (and others). I was also happy that we worked with primary documents –– I am most definitely going to use these in my classroom this year."
  • "This was the best NEH workshop I've attended, and all three NEH workshops I have attended have been awesome. What I liked about the Rochester Reform Trail workshop was the depth of the experience: We focused on one time period and several interrelated movements, and we learned about the topic from a variety of angles. The director, Jose Torres, is knowledgeable and has done an excellent job organizing the week: Each new lecturer or experience ("field trip") added a new layer of understanding to the fundamentals that we were introduced to at the beginning of the week by Jose and through our readings. The lecturers and docents he's gathered are passionate and skilled presenters. I had this great sense that every moment of the workshop was valuable, but the pacing was never frenetic; in other words, there was time throughout the week to let the information sink in. I think this experience will help round out the way I teach the abolitionist movement, women's suffrage and other shifts and reforms of the 19th century. I know more about the key players in these movements now, and I know much more about their relationships with each other as well as the "minor characters" who supported, inspired or challenged them. Knowing more about these historical figures and events will help me communicate to my students more clearly about the transformations that happened in the 19th (and early 20th) century. I also know more about what I don't know. I thought I knew more about Calvinism then I do, apparently, for instance, so this workshop has given me a to–do list of books I must read, topics I must research and questions I must ask in order to go to the next level of understanding."
  • "Excellent – truly transformative. I understand antebellum reform in a whole new way. I can give my students a much better big picture understanding, including the relationships between movements and activists."
  • "Superb! The workshop exceeded my expectations. I am anxious to return to my home state and have my students research, in our own state/town, the role of women in the fight for women's and slaves' rights. Joe Torre was amazing. Not only was his depth of knowledge deep, but he really showed his humanity in both the lectures as well as with the participants. I think he really MADE the work shop––his enthusiasm and good nature made it easy to wake up every morning and be excited to see him! The chosen presenters and field trip "leaders" were fabulous. The lectures in the morning and then the field trips in the afternoons were a perfect combination. Don't change anything!"
  • "Joe Torre created an engaging, thought–provoking experience with the Rochester Reform Trail. The speakers were extremely intelligent and passionate about their subject matter, each with a differing perspective of the reform taking place in Rochester in the 1800s. We NEH scholars participated in collegial discussions with the speakers and Joe Torre. Because of this workshop, I now have a much richer understanding of the history of Rochester and its people that I will be able to draw upon in my teaching. Also, I acquired many new ideas and resources to use in planning my lessons. I can't wait to take my second–graders on a trip on the Erie Canal!"
  • "Joe Torre was a thoughtful, personable, and well–organized leader. His friendly manner created an atmosphere of respect and collaboration among the NEH scholars. His assistant, Stephanie Pawlicki, also added her personal charm and insights to our experience. Each visiting faculty member (Dr. Erik Seeman, Dr. Richard Newman, Dr. Carol Faulkner and Dr. Alison Parker) was well–prepared and enthusiastically led us in scholarly discussion. Each daily topic added a new layer to our understanding of Rochester reform in the 1800s.The NEH scholars chosen to participate were a friendly and diverse group from around the country. We worked well together and I enjoyed meeting so many interesting people and debating new thoughts and ideas. We talked history at breakfast, lunch, and dinner!"
  • "My experience was terrific! The site visits and guest lectures were phenomenal, and I will be integrating a lot of what I learned into my 11th grade American Studies classes. I left with a much deeper understanding of the religious reform, abolition, women's rights movements. This is exactly why I signed up for the course. Overall, I would rate my experience a 10/10. Perfect! Prior to our arrival we were given excellent resources to prepare us for the seminar. The format of the information and discussion in the morning and visiting the site in the afternoon was great. Dr. Torre was always there to answer questions and provide the opportunity for us to explore and make the connections for ourselves. He gave us the opportunity to explore and that will enhance my own teaching of American Literature. Making those historical links will give my students a deeper understanding of the impact of history has on literature – especially being able to visit Seneca Falls and know that Frederick Douglass was there (I was in the same room he had been in – very powerful). I have a deeper understanding of the impact of "place" after visiting the Erie Canal and Seneca Falls . I really did not know the importance of the canal and how that really moved this country forward. All of that impacts literature. This provided me with a "hands-on" experience. I took pictures and will be able to share this with my students. Since I teach on–line and teach students from all over the world, this will provide invaluable information. I know students can access pictures of these places for themselves, but they can't access the passion I will convey when I teach about Frederick Douglas or Susan B. Anthony. They will get that excitement from me because I experienced the "place" and hopefully that will enhance their learning experience. My teaching manager has asked me to provide a Professional Development session on the seminar and on NEH. She could hear in my voice how excited I was about the information and the importance of the work that NEH is doing. I am delighted to share with my colleagues and invite them to apply next year. I teach at an online school and each of us are teach from home, so my colleagues live all over the United States. I can't wait to share the information I learned and show them the magnificent opportunities NEH offers! Very exciting!"
  • "This was an AMAZING experience that was conducted with the utmost professionalism. I cannot begin to explain the invaluable asset this experience will be to my teaching this period of American history in my future classes. This program was well thought out and well executed by consummate professionals that really knew what they were doing. The organization of major topics along the lines of different perspectives caters perfectly to the type of critical thinking strategies teachers are expected to be using in their classrooms today. I am grateful for the director and his staff for putting together such a great experience."
  • "This was a great workshop. I can't say enough about how grateful I am for this professional development opportunity. This NEH workshop was well designed and had a great balance of academics and site visits. After this week, I was enabled to apply what I learned immediately to my lessons and units. This was the best PD experience of my teaching career. Thank you! I hope NEH continues to offer this workshop to other educators in the future."

2014 Evaluations

2011 Evaluations

Director: Jose R. Torre
Please email all questions to RochReformTrail@brockport.edu.