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08 January 2015

The Path to Becoming a Genealogy Educator: Part I


By Craig Siulinski

Since 2008, I've been on a stimulating journey to immerse myself in the ways of genealogy.  My genealogy education has included taking a series of beginner and intermediate classes through the Oakland FamilySearch Library and the California Genealogical Society.  As a member of CGS, I also attended countless presentations and workshops, and volunteered in the areas of desk duty, technology maintenance and teaching the Beginners class on Saturday mornings. 

All of these experiences provided far more than knowledge-- they provided opportunities for learning genealogy, both inside and outside the classroom through networking, sharing and giving back.  After gaining so much knowledge from several years of genealogy self-education and from befriending an extremely supportive researcher community, I felt confident and prepared to submit a proposal to Berkeley Adult Education in 2012 to teach a nine-week genealogy class.  Although my proposal was accepted, I did not end up teaching the class because I moved shortly thereafter to Massachusetts for a new job. 
After adjusting to my new job and community, I pulled the proposal off the shelf and prepared a one-hour genealogy talk to be delivered as a special presentation at the local senior center.  My interest was to tap the communitys interest in genealogy.  Several months earlier, I had started volunteering as the leader of the weekly iPad Club so my reputation to engage with seniors had already been established.  The talk was well received.  It was also recorded live by the local cable television network, which gave more exposure to the idea of a genealogy class.  When I was packing up my materials, I was pleased to see that ten people had signed the form I had set out to determine interest in enrolling in a future genealogy class to be held at the center.
 
Members of Craig's genealogy class in Auburn, MA. Photo: Craig Siulinski
So now I knew there were enough people who were passionate and curious about genealogy to populate a weekly class at the center.  A few months later, the class started meeting on Wednesday evenings.  After introductory discussions, the class moved right into foundation-laying genealogy lectures with homework assignments to jumpstart them into searching for home sources and starting online research.  Each week, the level of enthusiasm seemed to go higher and higher, particularly when individuals shared feedback from their initial research and from interviews with family members.  The class culminated with trips to the local library in which I was able to assist students in real time with their researching on Ancestry.com.

In Part 2 of The Path to Becoming a Genealogy Educator, the journey continues as I branch out to teach at an Adult Education program, and get involved in starting my own business.  Ill also tell about a special student from my first class, to provide a highlight of the value that teaching genealogy brings. 


Copyright © 2015 by Ellen Fernandez-Sacco, California Genealogical Society and Library.

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