Educator Spotlight Mission in Action

Meet India and Blake


This is a series where we introduce educators who work with us at the Museum and help us help other teachers. Meet India Meissel and Dr. Blake Busbin, members of our Teacher Advisory Council!

India Meissel of Suffolk, VA

India Meissel

Where and what do you teach?

I teach 11th grade Dual Enrollment U.S. History and 12th grade Virginia/United States Government and serve as the Department Chair at Lakeland High School in Suffolk, VA. 

Give us your twitter-length philosophy of education.

The Broadway musical Hamilton taught many the phrase “who lives, who dies, who tells your story”. Our young people need to see themselves in the narrative of history if they are to immerse themselves into that history. As educators, we must do everything possible to help our students “see” themselves in their history.

What do you find to be the most challenging aspect of teaching social studies and the Civil War era?  

The Civil War and Reconstruction eras are “hard history” and on occasion “pushing” students out of the “Lost Cause” narrative and getting them to have an open mind regarding the viewpoints of others is challenging.

What strategies do you use in your classroom to overcome those challenges?

The very first lesson that I incorporate into my classroom yearly is the idea that my classroom is open to civil discussion and discourse. I teach my students how to conduct themselves and the understandings they come away with if they listen to an opposing viewpoint. I also tend to use as many primary sources as possible when teaching and have students interpret their meaning as it may fit into the larger narrative.

Tell us about your experience collaborating with the museum and being part of ACWM’s Teacher Advisory Council.

The council is AMAZING! To hear the varying viewpoints and teaching strategies while offering colleague support is always appreciated. There is always something new to get you excited and motivated about the next time you teach the Civil War era. While I had the opportunity to visit the museum helping lead a teacher tour in the summer of 2019, I look forward to a post-Covid era when I can work to bring more programming and possibly an in person tour during 2021-22.


Dr. Blake Busbin of Auburn, AL

Dr. Blake Busbin

Where and what do you teach?

I live and teach in Auburn, Alabama, where I attended college (War Eagle!). I currently teach “American History Columbus to Reconstruction” for 10th graders at Auburn High School as well as work with our first- and second-year teachers.

Give us your twitter-length philosophy of education.

My purpose in the classroom is two-fold. Firstly, to present an engaging and rigorous experience introducing students to the breadth and depth of the American story. In doing so, my hope is that their critical thinking skills will be enhanced to prepare them to be engaged citizens in the present, ready to shape the future.

What do you find to be the most challenging aspect of teaching social studies and the Civil War era?  

One of the biggest challenges I find with teaching the Civil War itself is the multitude of directions one can take the subject in. Oftentimes, the amount of information and difficulty of weaving such together a unit narrative for students is problematic. From emancipation to innovations in military tech, it can be overwhelming. This reflects one of the overarching problems in the social studies: the vastness of information with scarcity of time.

What strategies do you use in your classroom to overcome those challenges?

I have sought to break up my Civil War unit into limited “mini-units” to highlight the different themes and essential questions. For example, I focus several days on the home front with a smaller culminating assessment for that portion.

Tell us about your experience collaborating with the museum and being part of ACWM’s Teacher Advisory Council.

In a school year like 2020-21, being part of this group provided both tools for the classroom and support for the individual. The museum’s wealth of online opportunities and resources were so valuable and I would not have been aware of these without getting involved. Secondly, the purposeful connections and dialogue between group members provided a bonding to help lift all through this year. It was a welcome relief to know that educators around the country were facing similarly daunting circumstances.