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Buchanan Teacher Brings History to Life

Joe Ryan, a Buchanan resident, has been bringing history to life for more than 40 years. What started with a dozen students carrying muskets at Blue Mountain Middle School in the Hendrick Hudson School District has become a statewide program of students and teachers learning U.S. history by living it.

Ryan’s enthusiasm is filled with the energy of the battles he recreates for both teachers and students. “Blue Mountain was a banner school. It was a wonderful school. When you take a great staff and involved parents, you get great programs,” he says.

The program continued to grow when former Gov. Pataki asked Ryan to take his program across the state. When Ryan retired from the school district, a group of parents “formed a living history education foundation.” Ryan describes the combination of donations, events and grants that have created a not-for-profit which brings courses to some 1,600 teachers and provides supplies for schools around the state.

Each year, for example, teachers are immersed in history in Ticonderoga so that they can bring living history back to their classrooms. Ryan describes day-long marches while carrying a musket, camping at historic sites, and learning the tactics of battle.

This coming year, he is serving on the council for the bi-centennial of the War of 1812.

The Living History programs cover everything from the French and Indian War to the Civil War. Ryan, quips, “The story isn’t Joe Ryan. The story is the community…. You can’t win battles without troops and there are plenty of troops.”

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