Florida teacher among first to tour reopened Washington Monument

WASHINGTON -- Jason Dumont teaches civics and U.S. history in Longwood, Florida, near Orlando. Like most middle school teachers, he's always looking for ways to inspire his adolescents.

About a year ago, Dumont discovered that students like Jisele Alexander liked to look at the travel photos he posted on Instagram.

Jason Dumont CBS News

"Like one day he might show us pictures about Africa, and then we'll have an assignment on Africa and it all ties together and makes it so much fun," Jisele says.

He did the same with Paris, Iceland, Genoa and Machu Picchu.

"I want them to go to those places someday," Dumont says. "I want them to see how exciting it can be and how doable it is. I am a teacher -- I'm not rich by any means. I save up and I use my time in the summer to go to one of those places, and if I can do it, there is no reason they can't."

So when the U.S. Department of Interior announced that 12 Instagram users would be among the first to tour the newly refurbished Washington Monument, Dumont applied -- and won.

First look inside repaired Washington Monument

Dumont says he hopes his students feel like they won, too.

"I hope they get excited and see what I'm thinking, and I hope they come on their own," he says.

It's the first time the public has been allowed inside since that 5.8 magnitude earthquake in August 2011. Workers wrapped the monument in scaffolding, fixing 665 feet of cracks to the marble and granite.

Now that it's reopened, it's retaking its place as a living classroom, both for students who visit and for those who can't.

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    Nancy Cordes is CBS News' congressional correspondent.