By Donna Parker
As Anna Wells Wade who received a double bachelor’s degree in humanities and art history and a master’s in teaching from Trinity in 2002 and 2003, respectively, sat through her courses, she never imagined that one day she would be teaching visitors to the Baseball Hall of Fame about the intricacies of America’s favorite pastime.
“I had been to baseball games and that’s about it,” laughs Anna. “It didn’t occur to me when I left Trinity that I would even be outside the classroom, much less working in baseball,” says this director of museum education at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, N.Y.
“However, I am drawn to people’s passion about learning and about baseball. I really love people walking in the door ready to tell stories about their own personal experiences with the game and its history.”
This energetic alumna, who describes herself as outgoing and inquisitive, says Paul Kelleher, the former chair of the education department and Anna’s advisor, was invaluable in providing guidance upon graduation.
“I was unique in that I taught for a year and went into a different education field. Dr. Kelleher realized the connection through the curriculum work that I was doing. I am thankful that I was able to work with a mentor like him during my time at Trinity.”
The transition from classroom to museum education has a strong foundation. In 2003, Anna taught first grade in the Washington, D.C., public schools and then at the Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center before moving onto museum education positions in Atlanta and Tampa.
“Museum education is an excellent field! Our goal is to help all visitors on school field trips or family visits discover connections between their own lives and what they experience in a museum. Cooperstown presents a snapshot, for example, of American history. We interpret events in baseball as they are tied to historical context. Consequently, we teach subjects such as civil rights, women’s history, math, science, and character education, and we utilize baseball as the jumping off point.”
Anna conducted “a large amount of baseball research in a short amount of time” during her first year on the job. “It was a big learning curve for me,” she says, but contrary to what “stat heads” might ask, she doesn’t concentrate on minutiae but rather the rich stories surrounding the game.
“It’s not really a ‘stump the expert’ situation,” says Anna. “Our extensive library has more than 2 million documents, photos, and recorded media for further research. My job is to provide visitors the opportunity to share their own personal stories and have a meaningful experience at the museum.”
On a personal level, Anna and husband, Dion Wade ’02, have settled into the one-stoplight town of Cooperstown, delighted to be close enough to NYC, Philly, and Boston for weekend travels. Even the long winters suit them with opportunities to hike and snowboard or settle in for a quiet evening at home.
“I also volunteer at the local Alzheimer’s Association where we’re busy establishing new programs for people living with Alzheimer’s. I was excited about the work that the Association was doing on a national level with other museums, and I wanted to provide similar programs for the Hall of Fame visitors.”
She also swims most days and still finds time to run as often as she can.
“These are good habits I developed while at Trinity. It offered an inviting, small community where I made lifelong friends. I fell in love with art history and education but also experimented with courses about the French Revolution under Gary Kates, department of history. It was a chance to learn about historical events that I was not as familiar with and meet new people in the Trinity community.”
Anna was also an RA and has since reconnected with other RAs like Ben Newhouse ’99 through Facebook.
“I’ve really circled back in the past three months becoming a career mentor with the Career Services Office and reconnecting with the Trinity community. We offer a great internship program at the Hall of Fame, and I would love to have a Trinity student working here with us in the summer!”
“Everyone here at the Hall is passionate about what they do and I feel fortunate that Trinity provided me the support and foresight to experiment by stepping outside my paradigm and discovering the possibilities that life has to offer.”You may contact Anna at firstname.lastname@example.org.
After reading this story if you feel strongly about any Trinity alumni who the Alumni Office should profile in future AlumNet issues, please submit your suggestions. We are looking for suggestions in these four categories: 1) recent grads, 2) grads who innovate, 3) grads in business, and 4) grads who serve the world. Feel free to nominate yourself if you fall in these categories. -- AlumNet Moderator