Educator Institute


JUNE 1-2, 2023

The Heritage Foundation of Williamson County is proud to offer its Summer Educator Institute, an immersive, experiential professional development program, designed to provide social studies teachers an opportunity to engage with scholars in research, critical analysis, and study at the Heritage Foundation. This year, our Summer Educator Institute Revolutionary Ideals gives participating educators:

• A collaborative environment, facilitated by discussions with leading public history scholars, a group field trip excursion, and break-out sessions.
• Toolkit is designed to bolster their understanding of local history, build resources for their classrooms, and contribute to our upcoming online resources through the Heritage Foundation Digital Classroom.
• Tackling interdisciplinary topics tied to the American Revolution, the early republic, the creation of townscapes, and the continuing conversation on “all men are created equal” focused on its legacies today, as we approach the nation’s 250th anniversary.
• Share their experiences by becoming ambassadors to their students and fellow educators through conversations about collective history and culture of Williamson County linked to Tennessee and the United States.

The Summer Educator Institute offers educators a content-rich program taught by nationally recognized scholars. This year, our program involves concentrated immersion in the American Revolution – revolutionary ideals - and its legacies on local history, preservation, and community engagement, fostering the impassioned exchange of ideas among the scholars and educators. We seek to bring nationally recognized speakers and scholars, who present cutting-edge curriculum and research to educators, building upon current and new strategies for teaching history in the classroom.

The Foundation’s 38-year-old Heritage Classroom provides educators and students with engaging curricula that meet all local, state, and national Standards for history education, creating dynamic online resources, providing traveling interpretive exhibits for immersive classroom experiences.

• Date: Thursday, June 1, 2023, | 7:30 am – 4:00 pm & Friday, June 2, 2023, | 8:30 am to 3:30 pm
• Location: The Franklin Theatre and the History and Culture Center


Teachers, please click to reserve your space.

Museum Educators

Museum Educators, please click to reserve your space.

Event Schedule - Day One - The Franklin Theatre


Light Breakfast & Coffee, Registration, and Networking

8:00-8:15 AM

Welcome and Opening Remarks

8:15 – 9:00 AM

Session I A - Bradley Boshers, Williamson County Archivist

8:15 – 9:15 AM

Session I B - Cultural Landscape Walking Tour with Franklin Walking Tours

9:15 – 10:15 AM

Keynote Speaker – Dr. Elizabeth Chew, James Madison’s Montpelier

10:15 – 10:30 PM


10:30 – 11:30 AM

Session II - Dr. Ashley Bouknight-Claybrooks, American Association of State and Local History

11:30 – 12:45 PM

Lunch On Your Own – Explore Downtown Franklin

12:45 – 1:45 PM

Session III - Steve Phan, Chief of Interpretation, Camp Nelson National Monument

1:45-2:00 PM


2:00-3:00 PM

Afternoon Keynote, Dr. Thomas Flagel, Columbia State University

3:00-3:45 PM

Collaborative Conversations with Scholars

3:45-4:00 PM

Wrap Up & Announcements for Day Two

Event Schedule - Day Two - The History Center of Williamson County


Light Breakfast & Coffee, Registration, and Networking

9:00-10:00 AM

Session 1 A: Bradley Boshers, Director, Williamson County Archives

9:00 – 10:00 AM

Session 1 B: Cultural Landscape Walking Tour with Franklin Walking Tours

10:00 – 11:30 PM

Workshop 1 A – Steve Phan, National Park Service, Chief of Interpretation at Camp Nelson National Monument

10:00 – 11:30 AM

Workshop 1 B – Dr. Ashley-Bouknight-Claybrooks, American Association of State and Local History

10:00 – 11:30 AM

Workshop 1 C – Rachael Finch, Heritage Foundation of Williamson County, TN

10:00 – 11:30 AM

Workshop 1 D – Dr. Thomas Flagel, Columbia State Community College

11:30 – 12:45 PM

Lunch On Your Own – Explore Downtown Franklin

12:45 – 1:00 PM

Break and regroup for afternoon workshops at the History & Culture Center

1:00-2:30 PM

Workshop 2A - Dr. Thomas Flagel, Columbia State Community College, Franklin

1:00-2:30 PM

Workshop 2B – Rachael Finch, Heritage Foundation of Williamson County, TN

1:00-2:30 PM

Dr. Ashley Bouknight-Claybrooks, American Association of State and Local History

1:00-2:30 PM

Workshop 4D – Steve Phan, National Park Service, Chief of Interpretation at Camp Nelson National Monument

2:30-3:15 PM

Panel Discussion with Cohort

3:15-3:45 PM

Closing Remarks and Wrap Up

Featured Speakers

Director, Williamson County Archives

Bradley Boshers is the director of Williamson County Archives and Museum in Franklin, TN. A graduate of Brentwood High School, Boshers holds a Master of Arts in Public History from Middle Tennessee State University with an emphasis in archives and museum management, and a Bachelor of Arts in History from Abilene Christian University. He is a member of the Academy of Certified Archivists, and currently serves as Secretary for the Society of Tennessee Archivists. Boshers’ work experience includes the Rutherford County Archives and Metro Nashville Archives. His areas of interest are genealogy, local history, archival preservation, and records management. Boshers resides in Brentwood, Tennessee.

Senior Director of Museum and Chief Curator, James Madison’s Montpelier

Elizabeth Chew, Ph.D. is Senior Director of Museum Programs and Chief Curator at James Madison’s Montpelier, where she oversees the Curatorial, Education, and Research departments. An art historian, she holds a B.A. from Yale, an M.A. from the Courtauld Institute of the University of London, and a Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She has worked at museums and historic sites since 1985. At Montpelier she has overseen the excavation and reconstruction of six slave dwellings and work buildings, the creation of the exhibition The Mere Distinction of Colour, winner of six national awards, and the National Summit on Teaching Slavery.


As curator at Monticello for thirteen years, she was instrumental in expanding interpretation to include women, slavery, and domestic work. She curated the exhibition "'To Try All Things': Monticello as Experiment" in the David M. Rubenstein Visitor Center and was co-curator, with Rex Ellis of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, of the exhibition Slavery at Jefferson's Monticello: Paradox of Liberty. She has taught art history at the University of Virginia, James Madison University, Wake Forest University, and Davidson College and published and lectured widely on ways that architectural patronage and art collecting and relate to gender, race, and family politics.

Senior Director of Preservation & Education, Heritage Foundation of Williamson County, TN

Rachael Finch is the Senior Director of Preservation & Education for the Heritage Foundation of Williamson County, TN. Finch leads preservation, education, and advocacy initiatives, including interpretive planning and research for its museum and cultural institutions, Franklin Grove Estate & Gardens, and the History & Culture Center. Prior to her work at the Heritage Foundation, Finch served as the Executive Director of the Historic Franklin Masonic Hall Foundation, as well as the Research Historian for the Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area, and Civil War Projects Coordinator for the Center for Historic Preservation at Middle Tennessee State University.

Finch holds an M.A. in Public History with emphases in Historic Preservation, Cultural Resource Management and Administration of Historical Organizations from Middle Tennessee State University, and a B.A. in History and Political Science from Metropolitan State University in Denver, Colorado. Finch appeared in several award-winning documentaries including The American South as We Know It, and Desperate Days: The Last Hope for the Confederacy, as well as the upcoming 2023 documentary, Duality: A Collection of Afro Indigenous Perspectives. Finch has taught public history seminars as a guest lecturer at the University of the South and Bowling Green State University. She has authored articles and presented on the Civil War & Reconstruction, African American history, history education, heritage tourism, preservation, architecture, and cultural landscapes, and the ethics of inclusivity of public history and museums.

Professor, Columbia State Community College

Dr. Thomas Flagel is an associate professor of History at Columbia State Community College in Tennessee. He holds degrees from Loras College (B.A. History), Kansas State University (M.A., European History), Creighton University (M.A., International Relations), Middle Tennessee State University (PhD., Public History) and has studied at the University of Vienna. Flagel has worked with multiple historic preservation groups, including the American Battlefield Trust and the National Park Service. A national speaker on war and memory, he also works in oral history, historic preservation, and museum studies, helping preserve the stories of those who are otherwise forgotten or erased from public discourse. Originally from Iowa, he currently resides in Franklin, Tennessee.

American Association of State and Local History

Dr. Ashley Bouknight-Claybrooks is a community educator and museum consultant for various museums, historic sites, and neighborhood history projects in the southeast. She received a Masters of Arts in Public History and a Certificate in Museum Management from the University of South Carolina and a Bachelor of Arts in Historic Preservation and Community Planning from the College of Charleston. She received a Ph.D. in Public History Program from Middle Tennessee State University. Her research focuses on collections management theory, intersectionality and inclusivity in museums, and community outreach. Dr. Bouknight-Claybrooks served as a curator at Andrew Jackson's Hermitage, and currently serves as the Senior Manager of Professional Development for the American Association for State and Local History.

National Park Service Park Ranger and historian at the Civil War Defenses of Washington

Steve T. Phan is a Park Ranger and serves as the Chief of Interpretation at Camp Nelson National Monument. He recently served as the historian at the Civil War Defenses of Washington. He has also worked at Gettysburg National Military Park, Richmond National Battlefield Park, Hopewell Culture National Historical Park, Stones River National Battlefield, Rock Creek Park, and Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument. A military history scholar of the Civil War era, Phan’s research focuses on military occupation, operational command, African American soldiers and refugees, and fortifications during the Civil War. He is the author of articles about Asians and Pacific Islanders in the Civil War and the Defenses of Washington for numerous publications. He was nominated for the National Park Service Tilden Award for Excellence in Interpretation in 2019 and 2020. He holds a master’s degree in American History from Middle Tennessee State University.

Alicia King Marshall, Franklin Walking Tours

Alicia King Marshall is a longtime walking tour guide and owner of Franklin Walking Tours. She’s the history nerd often seen leading field trips in costume by day or telling ghost stories by night. She credits the town for providing a wealth of material, explaining, “Franklin has such a wild past. Making history fun is easy with our cast of characters and remarkable stories.”

A longtime parent volunteer, both of her children attended Franklin schools. She’s an award-winning writer and veteran game show contestant, living by the mantra "carpe diem"!



What is the date and time of the summer Educator Institute?

June 1, 2022 from 7:30 AM -4:00 PM and June 2, 2022 from 8:30 AM - 3:30 PM.

Who can attend the summer Educator Institute?

This event is primarily intended for classroom educators, but we also invite the following professionals to attend:

  • Active Middle School and High School educators and administrators of all disciplines. This year's institute is designed with cross-curricular collaboration in mind to bring historical relevance into disciplines outside of more than just the social studies curriculum.
  • Full-time Historic Sites and Museum Education professionals
  • Librarians

To preserve the integrity of a robust professional development experience, members of the public who are not classroom educators are not permitted to attend.

Do I need to register for the event?

Yes, you must register to attend the Summer Educator Institute.

When does pre-registration open for the event?

Registration is currently open. If there is room, we will accept onsite registrations on Wednesday, June 1.

What is the cost of registration?

This year's event is free for all classroom and museum educators. We greatly appreciate any donations made at the time of registration or at the event to help continue our local education initiatives.

How do I attend?

Follow the links at the top of the page depending on type of educator.

Is there free parking in Downtown Franklin?

Yes, there is free parking in downtown Franklin. We have two free parking garages located on 2nd Ave. South and 4th Ave. South. All day free parking is also available on the side streets in the historic neighborhoods, just a short walk to the Theatre. There are inexpensive paid parking lots off of Main Street at 4th and Main and 5th and Main.

Will food and drinks be provided?

All breakfast items and snacks as well as coffee, teas, and waters will be provided by the Heritage Foundation. Lunch will be on your own in downtown Franklin. We will provide maps of downtown Franklin for all attendees.

Are you recording the sessions?

At this time, we do not plan to record the entire Summer Educator Institute.

Can I receive a professional development certificate for attending the summer Educator Institute?

Yes, please contact our office directly for your Professional Development Certificate at

Is there a minimum number of sessions I must attend to receive a professional development certificate?

Yes. Any participant requesting a Professional Development credit or certificate must attend the entire Summer Educator Institute to qualify for the certificate.

How long do I have to wait to receive my 2023 professional development certificate?

Professional development certificates will be sent to the email address that you provided by mid-September of 2023.

Do I have to pay for my own professional development certificate?

No, the cost of the certificate will be covered by the Heritage Foundation.

How do I know if my school district will accept the professional development certificate?

It is your responsibility to confirm with your school district they received your Professional Development Certificate. The Heritage Foundation of Williamson County only facilitates the issuance of the professional development certificate. The application of the certificate is up to each individual, school, and school district.

Are there full college credit hours for attend the summer Educator Institute?

No. The Summer Educator Institute does not apply towards any continuing education, including undergraduate or graduate hours, and cannot be applied towards a college degree program.

How long do I have to request my 2023 professional development certificates?

You have until August 15, 2023, to request your Professional Development certificate. We will not process any requests for the 2023 Summer Educator Institute after August 15, 2023.