Jeff Lavender of Waxahachie joined outstanding teachers from across the state at “The West and the Shaping of America,” an institute sponsored by Humanities Texas, Texas Christian University and the Amon Carter Museum.

“The West is an exciting area of America to study. As I teach English and history, I want to have an idea of the big picture that I can communicate to others, ”said Lavender, who teaches at A+ Academy.

“The West and the Shaping of America” drew 40 teachers to the TCU campus in Fort Worth from June 3-6 for four days of seminars, lectures, workshops and visits to local cultural institutions.

“Humanities Texas was delighted to cosponsor ‘The West and the Shaping of America,’” said executive director Michael L. Gillette. “The opportunity to interact with their peers and leading scholars will enable educators like Jeff to engage students with exciting new perspectives on state, regional and national history.”

From visits to the Burlington Northern Santa Fe headquarters and the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame to presentations by Hampton Sides, Elliott West and Quintard Taylor, the Fort Worth institute introduced participants to diverse topics and resources.

A second institute, held in Lubbock from June 10-13, featured prominent speakers, including Richard W. Etulain, Red McCombs and Juanita Pahdopony. Teachers toured the National Ranching Heritage Center, the American Wind Power Center and the Buddy Holly Center.

“The institutes provide teachers with new tools to enable them to incorporate aspects of the American West into their courses, whether in Texas and American history, social studies or language arts classes. Students are thereby better able to understand the founding principles of the United States and how those were adapted in the taming of the West,” said Mary L. Volcansek, dean of TCU’s AddRan College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

“The West and the Shaping of America” institutes were made possible with support from a We the People grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, Humanities Texas develops and supports programs across the state, including lectures, oral history projects, teacher institutes, museum exhibitions and documentary films.

For more information about Humanities Texas and “The West and the Shaping of America,” visit online at For information about TCU, visit