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LH educators to make presentations at showcase

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PEARCY -- Two educators for the Lake Hamilton School District were selected as presenters for Tuesday's showcase in Little Rock of the second class of the Arkansas Declaration of Learning program.

The recognition event will be held at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday at the Central Arkansas Library System's Ron Robinson Theater, 100 River Market Ave. The event is free and open to the public.

Lake Hamilton Junior High library media specialist Jil'Lana Heard and Rachael Walston, content literacy facilitator for grades 4-12, were two of four members of the 2016-17 class selected to present. The event is planned as a chance to celebrate the success of this year's participants, highlight their work and provide additional information about the ADOL program.

Tuesday's other presenters are Brian Johnson, librarian for Lakeside Junior High School in Springdale, and Sherry Knight, an art teacher at Monticello Middle School. A total of 27 teachers and librarians were selected for the second year of the program.

Arkansas is the first state to participate through a partnership between the Arkansas Department of Education, Clinton Foundation, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Central Arkansas Library System's Butler Center for Arkansas Studies, William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum, and the U.S. Department of State's Diplomatic Reception Rooms. The first class for the 2015-16 school year featured 27 educators, including Lakeside High School library media specialist Stony Evans.

The first two years of the program allowed educators to lead classroom lessons and civic engagement projects for more than 4,000 students throughout the state. Participants are able to use historic art and objects from the collections of partner organizations to illustrate national and state-based stories to demonstrate how civic engagement was valuable to the country during its formative years, as well as the continued importance of civic engagement today.

"We worked really hard to try to make that time period, or whatever it was we were working on, come alive for the kids," Heard said.

Heard and Walston partnered with Seth Reeves at Lake Hamilton Junior High to co-teach four units during the school year in his eighth-grade U.S. History classes. They timed their lessons with the curriculum for the course.

"Instead of it just being a bunch of facts or 'Here is what happened when we built the Transcontinental Railroad,' let's look at the people that were involved in it and what impact this huge event had on their lives," Heard said. "Sometimes, I think you can identify more when you see the humanity side of what is going with history than just the basic facts."

They chose to develop their activities, lessons and units around historical and modern examples of ethnic, gender, racial and socioeconomic inequalities and injustices. They said Reeves was open, welcoming and accommodating to their desire to provide students with different viewpoints of American history.

"We were trying to look at all perspectives, because U.S. history often shows the white, European-American perspective," Walston said. "We were trying to show all perspectives of the incidents involved."

Reeves provided them with several weeks notice for when their units lined up with the curriculum. His flexibility allowed them to lead the class for several days or more than a week, depending upon the time needed to complete it.

"I think he saw the difference it was making in his kids," Heard said. "It wasn't just about learning history. They were learning about different things and examining what was going on to be better people and not make the same choices down the road."

Heard and Walston said they were encouraged by positive student engagement and feedback in the first semester when they asked students to analyze a painting. A later project allowed students to work as a community and raise funds to provide educational kits for preschool students at Lake Hamilton Primary School.

"It was neat to see how our kids were willing to give of themselves for this project for preschool kids," Walston said.

Both educators were accepted to attend the The George Washington Teacher Institute's "Slavery in George Washington's World" program this spring at George Washington's Mount Vernon in Virginia. The four-day program featured re-enactors, lessons and collaboration with on-site historians, curators and educators from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

"It was the best hands-on learning professional development I think I have ever been through, because we were immersed," Walston said. "We were living where these enslaved people lived. We were walking where they walked."

The program tied directly into their lessons with ADOL, but they had little time to integrate the information into their curriculum for the previous school year. They shared their experience during the Arkansas Association of Instructional Media's 46th Annual Conference in April in Little Rock and will provide professional development for K-12 teachers at Lake Hamilton in July during the district's Hempwallace conference.

The Declaration of Learning program began in 2013 as part of an interagency educational initiative between 13 national organizations to sign the declaration pledging to work with state and local partners to create learning tools for educators and students in middle and secondary education.

The Diplomatic Reception Rooms leads the national initiative, which is spearheaded by Arkansas native Anne Menotti, senior adviser for education and outreach in the Diplomatic Reception Rooms office. She is a graduate of Bergman High School, an alum of Hendrix College and her mother was a teacher.

Heard and Walston were the first two educators to jointly participate in the program. Participants shared their materials in a shared Google file.

A committee reviewed the materials and selected the four teachers to present on Tuesday. They said their different perspectives served as an advantage in their planning.

Heard was previously an elementary school teacher and Walston taught English and history for grades 7-12. They said they plan to continue their lessons next year at the high school, where Heard will become the new library media specialist.

Local on 06/18/2017

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