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Introducing Our 2011-2012 Teacher in Residence, Earnestine Sweeting

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2011-2012 Teacher in Residence Earnestine Sweeting

I’m delighted to introduce the Library of Congress 2011-2012 Teacher in Residence, Earnestine Sweeting to the readers of this blog. Since 2000, the Library of Congress has selected an exceptional teacher to advise and collaborate with its educational staff, and Earnestine is an outstanding addition to that tradition. A fifth-grade classroom teacher at P.S. 153, The Helen Keller School, in the Bronx, N.Y., Earnestine has ample experience in bringing Library of Congress primary sources into students’ lives.

Please join me in welcoming Earnestine as she tells the story of how she first came to work with the Library’s resources.

Who would have known that a three day workshop about primary sources would be an investment that would personally and professionally impact my life?

I was introduced to the Library of Congress several years ago by my school’s recently retired Certified Library Media Specialist, Jacqueline Brathwaite.  Jackie reserved a seat for me and for our Social Studies Specialist, Shelley Sanderson, at a summer workshop in New York, facilitated by the Library of Congress in partnership with the United Federation of Teachers and the NYC Department of Education Office of Library Services.  Having returned from a Caribbean vacation on a Sunday night to report to a workshop about primary sources the following Monday, I wasn’t sure if I would be a conscientious student. After the session, however, I discovered that I was fueled and armed with tools, techniques and lesson ideas to use with my students, and was eager to learn more about the Library.

Soon, I was plunged into this amazing institution’s collections of primary sources. My colleagues and I collaborated to develop a thematic unit of study based on the New York City draft riot of 1863, which the Library of Congress decided to film us teaching in action.

This was a monumental event for my colleagues and myself, and for the then fourth-grade students of PS 153 of the Bronx, led by Mrs. Veronica Goka. As with all thematic units, we took advantage of this formal observation to infuse project-based learning opportunities for the students.  We prepared activities that incorporated a variety of subject areas.  In addition to English Language Arts experiences, we integrated science and art.
Currently, you can see the video of our project in one of the Library’s six self-paced professional development modules that help teachers more effectively use the Library’s collection of maps, photographs, historical newspapers, manuscripts, and documents in their classrooms.

Student working with Primary Sources

Initially, I was overwhelmed by the idea of taking a three-day Library of Congress workshop about primary sources, whereas now I help others use the Library’s primary sources more effectively in their classrooms. As the 2011 -2012 Library of Congress Teacher-In-Residence, I plan to raise awareness of teaching with primary sources strategies that allow students to formulate and express ideas, and to help teachers maximize instructional strategies across the curriculum.  Accomplished teachers understand the impact of building connections in student’s learning experiences. As many states across our nation have formally adopted the Common Core State Standards Initiative, it is my intention to examine how the Library’s teacher resources support the integration of the Arts, Sciences, and Technology.

It is a personal and professional honor to have been selected as the Library’s 2011-2012 Teacher-in-Residence.  I share this honor with my school librarian, mentor and friend, Mrs. Jacqueline Brathwaite.

Comments (44)

  1. Beautiful letter, Ernestine, and it shows what a great team player you are in also honoring your librarian, mentor and friend, Jacqueline Brathwaite.

    We’re all so grateful to the Library of Congress for sharing their many storied resources, and to Steven Wesson, personally, for writing the story.

    Ernestine, If you or any of your colleagues would ever have need of learning more about Serbian history or of Americans of Serbian descent culture and customs, please know you can find them here at my website.

    As a now-retired school librarian, I initially aimed the content at American Serbs–elementary to middle high students— since for the last 20+ years, there has been so much negative press coverage in our newspapers, magazines, and TV, with much of it being untrue. I wanted these children to have a “safe-haven” to go to when researching about the Serbian people. However, luckily, the website has grown and grown and people from all over the world (Australia/ Brazil/many countries in Europe) have told me that its proven to be a godsend to them. It’s especially useful now, as we enter the Christmas season and people are anxious to find out how others celebrate and keep up their customs.

    (American Serb History 101)

    Perhaps if you or your colleagues have any students anxious to do some research on their own ethnic culture or heritage, you can point them in this direction. Thank you!
    Mim Bizic
    Pittsburgh, PA, USA

  2. Welcome, Earnestine! We are so glad to have you as a colleague!

  3. Congratulations , Earnestine Sweeting on this wonderful opportunity and very important position! As a newly degreed Preschool teacher who also works with children K-6, I realize the importance of teaching that involves an integrated curriculum nd marrying that curriculum to the Common Core standards for future success of children throughout their school careers. I look forward to the information you have to share.


  4. We’re so happy that you are with us this year, Earnestine! I remember you so well from our NYC workshop. Welcome! How lucky we are to be able to learn from you.

  5. Welcome to Earnestine Sweeting
    from a place so far
    from Armenian…From Gulf…From British Isles
    To our Library of Congress
    Which belongs to every race

    Word Teacher

    When I hear word teacher
    I must join with it word dedication

    Teachers dedicators till core
    Till their voices gets sore
    Till the neck muscles can’t relax any more
    To reach everyone…

    Who sometimes avoids to hear
    Each instruction…so clear…

    Praise for teachers
    Who can reach every student…
    Some can grasp and adore
    Every word teacher said
    And some ignore
    Criticizing ever care.

    Sylva Portoian, M.D
    Written instantly

  6. ignore the first and correct if there are mistakes
    I remain thankful…Sylva

    Welcome to Mrs Earnestine Sweeting
    From many places so far:
    From Armenia
    From Gulf
    From British Isles
    To our Library of Congress
    Which belongs to every race

    ‘Word Teacher’

    When I hear word teacher
    I must join with it word dedication

    Teachers dedicators till core
    Till their voices gets sore
    Till the neck muscles can’t relax to give more
    Till the eyes need double glasses without doubt

    Want to reach everyone…
    Who sometimes avoids to hear
    The instructions…so clear

    Praise for teachers
    Who can reach countless astrocytes*…
    Some can grasp…obviously adore
    every word teacher said
    And some ignore
    Criticising every care.

    Sylva Portoian, M.D.
    December 8, 2011
    * astrocytes: brain cells defined microscopically

    Written instantly

  7. We are delighted to share in your success. May God bless you in your new assignment.

  8. Congratulations on becoming the 2011-2012 Teacher-in-Residence at the Library of Congress! Thank you for the honor of being included in this introductory blog! I know how committed you are to student-based learning facilitated by powerful educational resources. The Common Core standards, with the infusion of Library of Congress historical resources and the willingness of collaborative learners and teachers sets a new mark for 21st Century global learning.
    Jacqueline Brathwaite

  9. Congratulations on your position Earnestine! I am eagerly awaiting a time when we will be able to collaborate so that I can infuse my Science and Technology program with the many wonderful resources from the Library of Congress!

  10. Congratulations Earnestine!
    Your commitment to and passion for quality education makes you a valuable addition to any foundation dedicated to the learning process. Once again, congrats!

  11. To a great team member-
    Congratulations from the entire staff and students of P.S 153 Helen Keller School.
    A well deserved honor to a great educator!
    Veronica Goka, Principal

  12. We are all so very proud that you are representing us here in the Bronx and in all of NYC. Thank you for your tireless dedication to our most precious treasure, Our children.

  13. Without a doubt, Earnestine Sweeting is one of the most professional, high quality teachers working for the New York City Department of Education. I am proud to be able to call her a colleague and prouder still to be able to call her a friend.

  14. How amazing is this!!!!! I am sure that you have learned so much and have so much to share! You work in an amazing school and have strong instructional leaders ! Mrs. Goka and Ms. JnBaptise have demonstrated that excellence is taking place within the NYCDOE schools!!! I can’t wait to hear of your amazing experience and next steps for our students. Kuddos!!!!!!! and Congrats !!!!!
    Tammy Katan-Brown šŸ™‚

  15. We are very proud of you and your work with the Library of Congress. Best wishes always.

  16. We look forward to your return and all of the wonderful information that you will share with our staff and students. We are very proud of your work with the Library of Congress.

  17. I am so very proud of you! What a tremendous honor and so truly deserved. Continue to inspire other teachers through your wonderful work in D.C. even though… we miss your creativity at P.S. 153. Shine on!

  18. Congratulations Earnestine! Keep on doing what you do best; educating young minds!

  19. Congratulations Earnestine! This is a very inspiring story; you are truly a dedicated and committed teacher.

  20. Congrats Earnestine on such a huge accomplishment. May your new position bring loads of fresh experiences and enjoyment.

  21. Congrats !! Earnestine

    I was overwhelmed with joy. You have always been passionate in all that you’ve done

    Blessings !!!

    Sabra and Little Sabra Inez

  22. Congratulations! What an honor. Thank you for representing the hard work and creative teaching that is going on all over NYC. Your work makes me proud to be a teacher.

  23. Iā€™m so grateful for my friends and colleagues for such outpouring of support. I am delighted to continue to help inspire teachers to find new ways to show how primary sources enhance and enrich their curriculums, positively impact student learning, and make history come to life in their classrooms.

  24. Congratulations Ms. Sweeting. We are so proud of your work at the Library of Congress.

  25. Congratulations, this is a tremendous honor for a well deserving teacher. You always appeared to be excited about teaching. I was only at 153 for a short time but I am not surprised that such an honor was bestowed upon one of their teachers, especially with the support and direction from Ms. Brathwaite, another dedicated educator. I hope to hear many more great things from you. Congrats again.

  26. I was delighted to know you are from District 7. Thanks for letting others know that District 7 has many important people other than the Yankees. Congratulations!

  27. Earnestine, I am elated for you and all of the hard work you put forth. Our children are in great hands with your efforts. Please continue this impeccable journey!

  28. So proud of you Sweeting!!!! What a great accomplishment and I don’t know anyone more dedicated! I am honored to call you my colleague and friend! Miss you!!!!

  29. Congratulations Ms. Sweeting! This couldn’t have happened to a more deserving individual. Best wishes.

  30. Continue the Great Work! I am proud to know there are extraordinary and passionate teachers in the BRONX!

  31. Dear Earnestine,

    This story caught my eye as I was preparing to do some online work to finalize an assessment of a content and ESL language unit for my own students. I just had to stop and say how proud I am that a teacher from our borough, let alone our city, was recognized in this way and wish you great success!

    Your award also reminds us all of what great resources there are at the Library of Congress, and of how lucky we are as teachers and students to work in a nation which has such resources. As a teacher of emergent bilingual students, many of whom are immigrants from humble circumstances in other countries, where resources for teaching and learning are often scarce, this is an important job you will be doing to offer to those of us here some insight into just how rich our resources really are. Congratulations, keep up the good work!

    From a fellow Bronx public school teacher,


  32. Congratulations to Ernestine!!
    A wonderful person, an outstanding teacher and role model. All the best

  33. Congratulations for such an inspirational accomplishment. Thank you for introducing me to the Library of Congress. I am now using the primary sources with my students.

  34. Congratulations Earnestine!!! Such a wonderful honor and this speaks volumes towards your commitment and dedication to the schools and to our future leaders. Continue to inspire!!! I am so proud of you!!!!

  35. Congratulations!!!!! thats pretty impressive and I only hope that you continue to trail blaze….

  36. Congratulations!!!!!What a wonderful honor. It speaks to your hard work and dedication for your students. I am so proud you.

  37. I am so proud of you Ernestine, without even knowing you! Contratulations on this achievement. I am impressed with your leadership and committment to furthering the education of adults and children through the use of primary sources. I am certain that with our experiences as a New York City elementary school teacher in the Bronx, you will be a tremendous asset to your new team at the Library of Congress. I wish you all the best in your new endeavor as an outstanding educator repesenting our great Bronx borough as well as New York City!

  38. I am so proud of you Ernestine, without even knowing you! Contratulations on this achievement. I am impressed with your leadership and committment to furthering the education of adults and children through the use of primary sources. I am certain that with your experiences as a New York City elementary school teacher in the Bronx, you will be a tremendous asset to your new team at the Library of Congress. I wish you all the best in your new endeavor as an outstanding educator repesenting our great Bronx borough as well as New York City!

  39. Determination + Hard Work + Discipline = The Way to Success……………..

    Congratulations !

  40. Congratulations to an exceptional educator who is an inspiration to all educators!

  41. Congratulations! I ran into Sophie and she told me about your wonderful achievement. I am so excited for you. Enjoy every moment of your journey. You go girl!

  42. Earnestine,
    Congratulations to you! I saw you in the AFT’s American Teacher Magazine (May/June 2012). Thank you for lending ink to your librarian. In these times when the librarians are constantly being cut from the resource picture it is nice to make mention of the librarian.

    School Librarian of NY

  43. Hello Ernestine:
    We had met at the Picturing America seminar at the Met in NYC. Is there a teacher portal I should sign up for, or newsletter, etc.? Thanks in advance.

    • Hello! One good way to keep in touch with the Library of Congress is to subscribe to this blog. You can also visit the Library’s Web site for teachers at

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