Albemarle School at Forefront of Teaching Black History
How is black history taught in schools? It's a question that's relevant year-round but comes to mind particularly during Black History Month.
Schools throughout central Virginia are doing special black history projects and lessons this month. At Monticello High School (MHS) teachers and administrators are trying to go beyond textbook teaching to make their lessons more hands on.
A history teacher at MHS has designed a multimedia civil rights lesson for her students. About 100 freshman and sophomores went around to different stations listening to music, looking at pictures, and watching movies about the civil rights movement.
"I thought that students needed to understand what it means because this is not their generation. And we can talk civil rights and we can explain all that," said Gwendolyn Reynolds, a history teacher at MHS.
County administrators say MHS is at the forefront of teaching black history. The school library will continue to have elements of the multimedia presentations as well as books and other learning materials about black history available through the month.
Some say black history needs to be highlighted beyond just the month of February. MHS's new principal, Jesse Turner, spoke about his vision of teaching black history in area schools.
Turner is the 4th black principal in the history of Albemarle County School District. He says he is thankful that the experience students have learning black history is different than his own personal experience growing up.
Turner says he only remembers having black history taught in school two times from elementary through high school. He says those types of lessons were mostly taught at home.
Turner says as parents start to get further removed from the struggles of the civil rights movement, this is the time for schools to really step up and teach black history to students, and not just during black history month - but all year round.
"I feel like the schools...we can continue, I don't think we're there, we need to do a better job in how we promote or teach the accomplishments of black people," said Turner.
Turner says he thinks black history isn't covered as much as it could be in schools still today because it's such a sensitive topic and some would prefer not to talk about it.
Albemarle County school administrators say teachers do try to incorporate lessons on black history all year long, but there is an emphasis on the topic mostly during the month of February.
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