Hello! We’re Leigh M. Tolley, Assistant Professor at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette (UL Lafayette), Melanie Harrington, Education Coordinator at Vermilionville, and Brady McKellar, Director of Museum Operations at Vermilionville, and we’re very excited to share the Vermilionville Education Enrichment Partnership (VEEP) with you!
VEEP, founded in 2012 on research and best practices, is an academic service learning partnership between Vermilionville, a living history museum and folklife park, UL Lafayette, and the Lafayette Parish School System (LPSS). Dr. Toby Daspit, UL Lafayette Associate Professor and VEEP Co-Founder, and Dr. Natalie Keefer, UL Lafayette Assistant Professor, are also major current contributors to this partnership.
Through VEEP, preservice elementary and secondary social studies and English language arts teachers explore Vermilionville and its artifacts, learn about the cultures it represents, reflect on myriad aspects of relevant history, and subsequently use these varied forms of knowledge as resources to plan interdisciplinary lessons. These lessons are delivered multiple times over the course of each “VEEP Day,” with one for elementary and one for secondary students each semester, with LPSS students and their teachers.
Lessons Learned: Formative, summative, and developmental evaluation processes have been a part of VEEP since its inception. By working together as a team, we have been identifying these processes, frequently reviewing the extant quantitative and qualitative data, collecting new data, building our evaluation capacity along the way, and planning for the future of the program and the many people impacted by it.
Hot Tip: Conversation is key! Bringing together multiple perspectives from our stakeholders, including LPSS administrators, Vermilionville staff, and UL Lafayette faculty into our program evaluation process has helped us think about the program from many different angles.
Hot Tip: Share more to know more! By sharing more about VEEP in formal and informal ways to diverse audiences locally and nationally, we have a chance to discuss what we’re doing and learn ideas from others that we may consider using.
Hot Tip: Spread the wealth (at minimal cost)! We view VEEP as a win-win-win for Vermilionville and its educational materials and programs development, for the preparation of preservice teachers at UL Lafayette, and for current and future local K-12 teachers and students. This collaboration has been a major asset to all of us, with the only major operating costs being staff time and transportation to Vermilionville from the schools. Otherwise, VEEP offers a free learning opportunity that so far has involved over 400 preservice teachers and over 2,500 K-12 students!
For us, VEEP has been and will continue to be a way to help prepare teachers in designing and implementing engaging and hands-on cross-curricular lessons, serve area K-12 students and teachers, and develop educational resources. We encourage other teacher preparation programs to explore the many potential opportunities that may exist in their own areas through their local parks, museums, and heritage sites.
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