Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Program Helps Teachers Bring Local History to Life

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Program Helps Teachers Bring Local History to Life

Article excerpt

Byline: Patricia Neleski, Times-Union correspondent

ST. MARYS -- Camden County teachers have found a way to avoid expensive out-of-town field trips for their students. They're exploring their own back yards, or neighborhoods, through a state history program called Talking Walls.

"I grew up here, I thought I pretty much knew everything there was to know about Camden County," said Gwen Drury, a third-grade teacher at Crooked River Elementary School. Then, last summer, she attended a weeklong history seminar with Darren Harper, archivist and director of the Bryan-Lang Historical Library.

Last year, Harper received a grant from the Georgia Trust to present the Talking Walls program in Camden County, now the 49th in the state to offer the history enrichment classes.

Through the program, area historians provide packets of information to teachers and offer training seminars to bring local history into Georgia classrooms.

Each county tailors the lessons to its community. In Camden County, the cities of Woodbine, St. Marys and Kingsland offer different local history lessons to their students.

"I learned things I never knew," Drury said. "It was the best course I have taken since I've been out of college."

Through the program, Drury and fellow teachers Pam Green and Shawna Spann discovered the untapped potential of a nearby historical site: the McIntosh Sugarworks. Two blocks from their school, the sugar mill proved to be a treasure just waiting to be explored.

Famous for its sturdy construction and 200-year-old walls, the mill will be prominently featured in the teachers' lessons next spring.

"We'll be using it to help with writing skills," Green said. She said she planned to incorporate discussions of the mill's construction into math and science lessons as well. Green said she would probably spend an entire month on local history this year. …

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