Teachers tell black history traditionally and virtually


FAIRBORN — Whether it’s reading, watching, or creating, teachers and students at Fairborn City Schools are bringing Black History Month alive in many creative ways. Teachers at Fairborn Primary School have found ways to share the stories of black people who have influenced American history in multiple ways, both in-person and online.

On Fridays, Katie Walker’s first grade class is creating something. Just learning to write, the students are making their own magazines, containing two-sentence “articles” of influential figures like Harriet Tubman, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and Rosa Parks.

“The kids will fill out a fact sheet, learn the facts on the page, color it, write a two sentence ‘article,’ and then bind them all into a magazine,” Walker said.

At the end of the series, all the pages will be laminated and bound together so each kid gets a book that they can keep. The project has successfully generated enthusiasm from the little ones.

“The kids are wondering when they’re going to make the cover page. They’re excited,” Walker said.

For Walker, this time of year is an opportunity to highlight people of color who have shaped America.

“Personally I believe that black history is American history and there shouldn’t be a disconnect,” Walker said. “But I think it’s an opportunity to highlight these important figures. It’s important, not just for my black students, but for all my students to see this is part of our history and our culture.”

Black history is being celebrated with virtual students as well. Lauren Wickline currently teaches remotely to special needs students in kindergarten through second grade. Through online video chat, her students are reading “The Value of Courage: the Story of Jackie Robinson.” Wickline reads to the youngest ones, and the older children also read passages from the novel.

Published in 1977, “The Value of Courage” is one in a series of Value Tales written by Dr. Spencer Johnson. The book tells the story of Robinson’s courage in becoming the first black player in modern Major League Baseball. The children’s tale is historical fiction, and follows Robinson from his time growing up as a kid in California, to taking the field with the Brooklyn Dodgers in the major leagues. The whole way, Robinson is accompanied by a talking baseball named Rags.

“We’re studying the Olympics,” Wickline said. “The skills learned kind of intertwine with the Olympics as well.”

Wickline’s students are young, but the theme of the book is timeless, as are the lessons of courage, kindness, and citizenship.

“There are people all over the world, they wear different clothing and live in different houses, and we still have to be kind,” she said. “Kindness is really what it comes down to. Sometimes we fight over what’s important: Black history and women’s history, we need to talk about it all.”

Wickline’s favorite quote from the book is a simple one, one that asks a question not only of its main character, but also the reader:

“Is there something that’s very hard for you to do, maybe something that you’re afraid of? Well, are you going to have courage to do it?”

By London Bishop

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Reach London Bishop at 937-502-4532 or follow @LBishopFDH on Twitter.

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