Richmond and Wayne County, Indiana, is an area rich in history.
Now through a partnership to receive a United States Department of Education grant, Richmond history teachers will be able to research the county’s roots in industrialization, entrepreneurship, social justice and transportation.
The Indiana University East School of Humanities and Social Sciences and School of Education have partnered with the Richmond Community Schools, the Wayne County Historical Museum, and the Indiana State Museum to receive a Teaching American History grant for $489,884 from the U.S. Department of Education.
The U.S. Department of Education awarded money from the grant to 124 school districts across the nation. Richmond Community Schools was one of four districts in Indiana to receive the grant.
Dean of the School of Education Marilyn Watkins said the partnerships between IU East, RCS and the museums create a comprehensive professional development experience.
“This partnership provides an opportunity for us to study aspects of our history and region with greater depth and to have time to focus on curriculum development” Watkins said. “The resources acquired from this grant will also be an investment in our children.”
Susan Hively is the principal at Highland Heights Elementary School and the Director of the Adult and Education Center. She contacted IU East to partner for the grant.
“Richmond Community Schools is very excited to have the support and partnership of Indiana University East with the Teaching American History Grant. This grant will provide our teachers of U.S. History topics with in-depth learning opportunities that will enhance the experience of our students,” Hively said. “Our grant has been cited as unusual because it includes teachers of third, fourth, fifth and eighth grades as well as high school teachers of U.S. History topics. We also appreciate the support of the Wayne County Historical Museum and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.”
The three-year grant will fund the Crossroads of American History Project: Learning our History, Loving our Stories at IU East. This program will enrich the educational experience for students in the classes of the 15 participating Richmond history teachers instructing grades 3-12. The funding provides graduate level coursework and an intensive summer institute merging American history topics with best practice pedagogy.
Teachers will also conduct field study at the local and state level; have access to high quality instructional materials and technology; and an ongoing collaboration of partners and teachers to support improved instructional practice during the project and beyond. IU East Assistant Professors of Education Brenda Buckner and Jay Barbre were a part of the team writing the grant and will instruct the summer courses for the program.
Dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences Joanne Passet said the grant will create a greater depth into historical context for teachers than what is currently available, ultimately benefiting students in the Richmond school system to have a greater understanding of the history surrounding them.
“It’s really a wonderful opportunity for us to partner with Richmond Community Schools and the museums in a way we never have before,” Passet said. “We are pulling a lot of community resources together through this grant.”
Focus of the study is the 19th and 20th centuries. Themes during the 19th century will be economics, entrepreneurship, transportation, and communication and for the 20th century they will study leadership, social justice and social movements.
“Richmond is an ideal area with the National Road running through the heart of the city and the influence of the automobile and industries throughout its history,” Passet said. “One of our goals is to build classroom materials that will bring history to life for students.”