Charlottesville, VA—Virginia Humanities at the University of Virginia held a summer institute for Virginia educators from across the commonwealth June 18-20 at the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center in Charlottesville.
Forty-one teachers, instructional coaches, and librarians will take part in the institute, which is part of a project funded by a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation called Changing the Narrative Through the Power of Story.
Changing the Narrative is a two-year project that aims to broaden and reframe narratives of Virginia’s past by engaging local communities and youth in addressing the present-day challenges of racism and bias. Participants in the teachers’ institute will receive training in educational technology including podcasts and Google Expeditions, and work together to create hands-on lesson plans.
Following a statewide call for applicants, the forty-one institute participants were selected based on their interest in incorporating themes of racial healing into their work.
“The school and district where I work, Richmond City Public Schools, has a long, complicated, and historically ripe past for the content the Institute will be working with this summer,” wrote Richmond middle school teacher Meredith Howard, in her application. Her hope is to guide her students’ “understanding of racism and help them on the road to becoming allies for their minority peers.” Jordan B. Kendall Horn, a high school teacher from Norfolk observed that her city is “still struggling with aspects of segregation and a sense of identity.” The applicants were united in their enthusiasm for what Norfolk’s Booker T. Washington High School teacher Ashley Hayes described as an “amazing opportunity… to create and nurture the bridge between the past, present, and future.”
“We understand the challenge ahead of us in doing this work. We want to create a space for honoring and respecting differences while rejecting divisiveness,” said Virginia Humanities’ executive director Matthew Gibson. “By facing hard and uncomfortable historical facts openly and by making those facts a part of the public dialogue, we lay the groundwork necessary for healing and for building an equitable society together.”
In addition to the summer institute, Changing the Narrative will provide short-term author residencies in public schools and public libraries as well as financial grants to nonprofits addressing the topic of racial healing in innovative ways in the communities of Arlington, Charlottesville, Harrisonburg, Norfolk, Richmond, and Roanoke.
To learn more about this and other aspects of the project, visit http://VirginiaHumanities.org.