Do you know what year it is? Well, Isaiah Thomas thinks it is 1812. That is, the reincarnated Isaiah who is currently going into fifth-grade classrooms and sharing some of his favorite books and broadsides with students. This Isaiah also brainstorms with these students what he should do with these materials. He is particularly concerned because we are once again at war with the British and marauding Royal marines could threaten his new national learned society if it were in a port city such as Boston or the new Washington city. Thomas, as portrayed by professional actor Neil Gustafson, thinks it would be best to locate his new Antiquarian Society here in his hometown of Worcester.
This is all part of our popular educational program entitled Isaiah Thomas –Patriot Printer, which is touring to every fifth-grade classroom in Worcester through the generosity of the Worcester Telegram & Gazette. Approximately 1,800 students in 33 different schools will experience this live theatrical presentation and will also explore the documents with an interactive online curriculum guide developed by classroom teachers. The program, which closely adheres to local, state, and national curricula standards, has proved very popular since it was first conceived in 2000. Since that time, over 11,000 people have experienced it. And while the majority have been students—this is the fourth year we have brought this to every fifth -grade class in Worcester—it has also been enjoyed by many adult groups as well.
The Isaiah Thomas – Patriot Printer program is part of an initiative known as Culture LEAP (Learning through Education and Arts Partnerships) that seeks to offer intensive curriculum-based cultural experiences to all students in a given grade. Culture LEAPS are collaborative efforts by the Worcester Public Schools, a working group of the Worcester Cultural Coalition composed of twenty-two education directors from the region’s cultural organizations, and the Worcester Education Development Foundation Inc. (WEDF). Currently there are eight LEAPs impacting students in seven grades.
The Isaiah Thomas- Patriot Printer LEAP is funded completely by the Telegram & Gazette. In speaking of their sponsorship, Paul M. Provost, publisher of the Telegram & Gazette, said, “Journalism begins in Worcester with Isaiah Thomas and as such he is an important part of the heritage of both the AAS and the T&G. We are proud to be a part of this excellent educational program that not only illuminates the life of Thomas but also teaches students the importance of literacy and critical thinking.” Some of the letters we have already received from students this year emphasize these themes (you can see a sampling here).
Editor’s Note: The author, James David Moran, conceived of and wrote the script for Isaiah Thomas – Patriot Printer.