Charlottesville Teachers Working to Improve How History is Taught
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Charlottesville City Schools is working to change how history is traditionally taught.
Currently, sixth through 12th grade teachers are working to change the narrative, and include stories of local African Americans and other minorities in their curriculum.
"We want to be on the front lines and cutting edge of that," said Neeley Minton coordinator of social studies and world languages.
City teachers say they want to tell history truthfully, and that means facing hard history and untold stories from perspectives they were never exposed to. The goal is to make sure every Charlottesville student can see themselves in the context of history. This work is part of a larger effort: A new state commission is reviewing educational standards for teaching black history.
"There's the dominant narrative, and then there are all these other stories that make our history more complicated but also more rich," Charlottesville High School teacher Matt Deegan said. "Students can learn things that their parents and grandparents were never exposed to."
"If you think about the history of America, Charlottesville is the history of America," Jefferson School Executive Director Andrea Douglas said. “The development of education in our community has everything to do with the African-American population, so that population's history should be part of that."
Douglas and her colleagues have worked on class curriculum for eight years. She says this is the first time they're seeing serious progress.
"There is a need and a desire amongst teachers and students to learn this history", she said. "We have had kids come in here and look at exhibitions and point to images and say, ‘That's my grandmother.’ So the ability to see yourself in this, to be able to hear what has been overcome to have what you have, those are powerful ideas."