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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

ODU Leads Workshops for Teachers About Desegregation in Virginia

For the second time, Old Dominion University will lead workshops for teachers focused on desegregation in Virginia.

"The Long Road from Brown: School Desegregation in Virginia," is one of 20 projects funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Landmarks of American History and Culture Workshops for School Teachers. Led by Old Dominion University in collaboration with Virginia Commonwealth University, this is the second grant award for the project. The first award-funded workshops were held in July 2015.

Through the one-year $175,813 NEH grant, workshops will give middle and high school teachers of various subjects across the country an understanding of the history of desegregation in Virginia schools through the lens of the civil rights movement.

Program co-directors Yonghee Suh, associate professor of social studies education in the Darden College of Education's Department of Teaching and Learning; and Brian Daugherity, assistant professor in the Department of History at Virginia Commonwealth University, will make two changes to this year's workshops.

"Teacher participants in 2015 highly valued their experience interacting with and listening to those who participated first-hand in school desegregation in Virginia. Given this interest, we added one session on the best practices of oral history," Suh said. She added that the next workshops will secure more time and space for participants to engage with each other and interact with scholars.

Last year, 187 teachers across various content areas, including social studies, English, special education and library science, applied to the program. A total of 71 participants, from 26 states, attended the workshops.

"Our workshop covers relatively unknown stories of the desegregation process in Virginia after Brown v. Board of Education and its legacies on the nation as a whole," Suh said.

"These are especially unknown stories to students in K-12 schools since Brown is often presented as one of the most significant democratic achievements in U.S. history curriculum and state standards. I hope teachers learn from the workshops that there was strong resistance and fights for school desegregation and its consequences directly impact our schools and society today."

The workshops will include trips to historic and educational sites central to Virginia's desegregation movement, including Virginia State University and its archives; the Robert R. Moton Museum in Farmville; a national historic landmark where a 1951 student strike took place; the Virginia Civil Rights Memorial in Richmond; and New Kent High School and George W. Watkins High School, two schools featured in later Supreme Court rulings on desegregation. Education scholars from other universities will discuss landmark cases in school desegregation, and work with participants to develop curriculum and lesson plans dealing with the subject matter.

"As a former high school social studies teacher, I think this project is important because it provides additional content knowledge and resources that teachers are able to use in their classrooms to teach about school desegregation, and the civil rights era more broadly," Daugherity said. "The program also highlights the value and importance of using historic sites as instructional tools; our participating teachers will visit some of the most important sites related to the Civil Rights era in the country."

The workshop stems in part from, and is supported by, the Desegregation in Virginia Education (DOVE) project, a network of repositories around the state and groups of people, including history teachers, private citizens, who are interested in preserving and teaching people about history.

Founder of the DOVE project and former head of ODU Special collections, Sonia Yaco, said when DOVE was created in 2008, it was for the purpose of bringing and preserving hidden, forgotten and sometimes painful desegregation documents to the forefront for educators and community members. "The history that's not known makes people invisible," Yaco said.

The next program will take place July 9-14 and July 23-28, 2017, at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. More information can be found online at http://thelongroadfrombrownneh.weebly.com.

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