I was delighted to read the beautiful cover of the Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association major grant from the National Institute of Museum and Library Services to rebuild our popular (but old) national educational website. American centuries. But there was no room in this article for a major piece of the site’s 20-year history – the technical, educational, and academic talent of Franklin County who built it.
Of American centuries“At the very beginning, it was a local effort. Laurie Block of Straight Ahead Pictures in Conway gave PVMA the idea and the initial impetus to create an educational website in 1999 with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Over the years, web programming and technical design (and the fixes to keep it running) have been provided by Juliet Jacobson and his partners Tony Jillson and Don Button of Digital Gizmo in Ashfield – and Greenfield Community College has provided a technical support and hosting for the website for two decades.
Content and instructional strategies for the website (and adjustments to ever-changing learning standards) were gathered from dozens of local K-12 teachers, first from the Frontier School District Regional-Union 38, then expanding to Mohawk Regional, Gill-Montague, Greenfield, Orange and Pioneer school districts with the tremendous cooperation of their superintendents, administrators and curriculum experts who collaborated with PVMA on a long and impressive list of grant projects from Massachusetts and United States government agencies supporting the website.
There has been no shortage of history scholarships available in the region, led by Dr Kevin Sweeney of Greenfield and Shelburne summer resident Dr Joanne Melish, increasing the well-qualified staff of PVMA. Local artists and photographers were also asked to visually enrich the site.
Having a great vision and a good production team does not guarantee the success of a federal grant application. For nearly 25 years, the local grant writing talent of development consultant Louise Neidle of Ashfield has dramatically improved the energy, persistence, word writing and project management needed, especially by such an institution. smaller than the PVMA, to influence demanding reviewers of grant applications to our cause.
With this new award, history will repeat itself. By far, most of the $ 194,000 grant will go to talent here in Franklin County.
Tim Neumann is the Executive Director of the Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association.