In any class that focuses on the Founding era in our MA in American History & Government program (MAHG), you’re almost certainly going to discuss Federalist #1 and how often human history is shaped by “accident and force” instead of “reflection and choice.” I discovered the MAHG program by accidentally keeping a flier from my school mailbox that I meant to discard, and I can’t count the ways that the history of my life has since been affected.

The professional benefits the program gave me are easier to quantify than the personal benefits, but the personal side is more significant. As 2023 drew to a close, I reflected on my relationships over the years and how much joy and gratitude they bring me. So many people in the MAHG program, professors and students alike, have inspired me in so many ways that it’s hard to imagine how different things would be had I thrown away that flier in my mailbox.

One of the benefits offered by a program that brings in teachers and professors from around the country is the opportunity to make friends that end up serving as an extended Professional Learning Community (PLC). I had great colleagues at my school, but MAHG opened my world to a vast group of inspiring and dedicated teachers. Some of them have been featured on this blog before.

Long time readers might have learned that MAHG grad Donna Devlin started and finished her PhD, but those of us who befriended her in our classes got to follow her story all along the way. Through Facebook we felt her setbacks and celebrated her successes, and her perseverance through all of it was inspiring.

If you were following our podcast in the spring of 2020, you would have heard an interview with Julia Rae Fuette about teaching online. I was thrilled to hear her advice. From our time together at Ashland, I knew how much she wanted to challenge her students. I knew also that her experience in online teaching would be invaluable to me. When I reached out to her, she graciously helped me structure my online courses. I wouldn’t have been able to wrap my head around the strange new world I was plunging into without that exchange, and without MAHG I never would have known where to look.

And while the relationships you form in MAHG certainly have the kind of professional benefits you’d get from a national PLC network, the friendships are just as valuable. It’s thrilling to bump into old friends like Brett Van Gaasbeek at a One-Day Seminar here in Ohio or Rusty Eder at a Weekend Seminar in Virginia.

But even keeping in touch virtually brings me happiness. From following the baseball career of Professor Dan Monroe’s son, to debating with Heather Loeschke about whether Antifederalist Melancton Smith should be shoe-horned into high school curriculum (and by golly, he should!), there are plenty of opportunities for small interactions with a diverse group of people I respect and care about.

No other graduate program can do what MAHG does. No other program draws together teachers from all walks of life and from every state, immersing some of the most dedicated teachers in the country in a week of lively discussions in and out of the classroom.

And with our summer schedule available now, it’s a great time to start planning how you’ll spend your summer vacation. Now that I’m working in the MAHG program full time, I get to spend my summers meeting an ever-increasing community of inspiring people.

And to think I almost threw away that flier.

Special note: if you’re interested in one of our degrees, you should check out our advice for applying for the James Madison Memorial Fellowship! This $24,000 fellowship is a great opportunity for teachers, and both of our degrees meet their eligibility requirements. Their application window closes on March 2, so you still have time to work on it.

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