New Riegel teacher says Washington is not just for the history books

By Alex Boroff

Focus Reporter

NEW RIEGEL - As a farmer, surveyor, soldier, and yes - president - George Washington was a man of many talents. That's why one local teacher wants to discuss Washington's life not only for history lessons, but for teaching math, science and other subjects as well.

This past summer, New Riegel elementary teacher Bethany Brickner attended the George Washington Teacher's Institute to learn more about America's first president. Brickner was one of 22 elementary teachers nationwide to attend the elementary section of the institute, which took place July 13-16 at the president's 18th century estate in Mount Vernon, Va.

To attend the institute, Brickner had to submit an application form, two essays, and two letters of recommendation. All of Brickner's travel and class expenses were covered by the institute.

During the week at the institute, teachers learn about Washington's life and discuss how to incorporate his biography into their curricula, including subjects outside of social studies, where Washington and the other presidents' names usually don't come up.

"They hit everything you could think of to incorporate his life into the classroom," Brickner said.

Brickner said Washington's farming background will be of particular interest to her students, given that New Riegel is a farming community.

"The kids don't realize that [Washington] was anything other than a president, so to say that this big man was also a farmer is just monumental," Brickner said.

Each school year, Brickner third-grade students look forward to learning about the presidents. She hopes that the enthusiasm her students have for presidential history will expand to other subjects where Washington's life can be brought into the lesson plans.

"They just get super-excited about anything to do with presidents," she said. "So I thought this would be a great opportunity to expand my knowledge and then a way to get them excited about it."

Brickner will have to give a presentation to her colleagues and submit her lesson plans to the institute, as per the institute's requirements.

Along with offering courses for elementary teachers, the institute also provides seminars for middle school and high school educators.

For more information about the institute, visit