Walking into the doors at Martinsville Middle School, visitors are surrounded by college clouds and banners. Not just those of colleges and universities, but of those of student created universities using some of our amazing first African Americans.
Maya Angelou said it best, “The more you know of your history, the more liberated you are.” Rosa Parks, Ruby Bridges, Harriett Tubman, along with many more, instantly come to mind when you think of Black History Month. But what about those who were the first in our everyday careers, trades, life, entertainment, and other fields? That is where Morgan Belton’s classes comes to play.
Belton, AVID Coordinator at Martinsville Middle School, wanted to provide her students with the opportunity to see that there are more heroes out there, not just those who are celebrated and taught in school. Each student in 6th, 7th, and 8th grade in her AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) classes had to research the first African American either in their career, trade choice, hobby, or area of interest, and it could not be someone that students already knew or had heard about. Once research was complete, students then created a college/university banner based upon their legacy.
“Seeing the students become engaged, curious, and proud while diving into their research and physically creating something made it exciting for me to see especially in a time where everything is being done digitally,” Belton said. “My goal was for the students to see that there are more remarkable people who has accomplished countless of things, especially in the careers, trades, interests, and hobbies of their liking.”
Ms. Buchanan, a 7th grade Math teacher, said, “It brought so much joy to my heart to see students creating artifacts of their learning with their hands. Having so many digital assignments over the last few years has removed an essential element of learning which encourages students to express themselves through authentically creative experiences. Seeing the finished products hanging on the walls of the school has given them a sense of pride in their learning. They were excited to do the research, to discuss ideas with their peers, and to create their pennants in celebration of Black History Month. Students were truly invested in their learning.”
“I am very proud of the work of our teachers and students,” said Schools Superintendent Dr. Zeb Talley. “Creativity is a very important part of academic instruction.”