Last week some 30 educators from Jackson and several other Alabama counties participated in one of the Alabama Bicentennial Summer Institutes hosted by IMPACT Learning Center. These educators had three full days of activities and a special celebration on their final day.
The title of the institute was “Where the River Meets the Mountains: Voices from Appalachian Alabama. The purpose of this institute was to explore how the mountains and rivers shaped the men and women of Northeast Alabama from prehistoric time to the Great Depression and through today.
The first visit was to the Jackson County Courthouse where they met with Circuit Judge John Graham. He discussed the Scottsboro Boys trial with them. Next the group was given a tour of the Scottsboro-Jackson Heritage Center by Jennifer Petty, director. There they got a taste of pioneer and antebellum life in Jackson County.
At the Scottsboro Boys Museum and Cultural Center, the participants were given a tour by Shelia Washington. The teachers were able to examine the facets of the Scottsboro Boys Trial which was an historic court case that inspired the famous novel To Kill a Mockingbird. Dr. Herman Washington was also there to share information with the educators.
A field trip to tour Russell Cave and Visitor Center in Bridgeport was next on the agenda. While at the cave, the teachers gained information about the ancient cave-dwelling inhabitants. Russell Cave is an archaeologic site that has one of the most complete records of prehistoric cultures in the Southeast.
On the final day of the institute, the group was treated to a presentation of history and Jackson County. J. P. Parsons, former director of Jackson County Tourism, provided this information. This was followed by a Bicentennial celebration with refreshments including a special Bicentennial cake.
“The Bicentennial workshop provided me with field trips, resources, and rich cultural experiences of my local history and introduced me to historians who volunteered to visit my classroom,” said Amy Wright who teaches at Skyline. “I plan to incorporate the knowledge I gained into lessons that will enhance students’ learning of the world around them.”
This institute was led by Nicki Barksdale, Williams Avenue Elementary School, master teacher, and Dana Pendergrass, Fort Payne Middle School, partner teacher. Blake Wilhelm from Northeast Alabama Community College was the content specialist.
Jackson County educators who participated in addition to Wright included Valerie Hall and Rhonda Saint, also from Skyline, Reggie Culpepper from North Sand Mountain High School, Melissa Shavers from Pisgah and Christie Carson from Section High School. Educators came from neighboring Dekalb and Marshall Counties and as far away as Birmingham.