‘A Vehicle for Education’: Dalton State Class Partners with Emery Center
November 3, 2014
Heather Jumper knows there are some things students can’t learn from textbooks.
She and some of her fellow education majors at Dalton State sat in a room full of items that are now obsolete – or at least quite outdated – looking for ways to engage elementary, middle, and high school students’ creativity and imagination.
There was a phonograph, a nonelectric iron, a nonelectric curling iron, and a washtub, among other items.
“We want them to be looking, thinking, and analyze the use of objects,” Jumper said.
Students in Dr. Joshua Pfiester’s Exploring Socio-Cultural Perspective in Education class are working with the Emery Center to create lesson plans for teachers to use on field trips. The Emery Center is a nonprofit multicultural heritage center in Dalton housed in the former Emery Street School, which served as the only black school in the community for many years until desegregation.
One room of the center is dedicated to objects from years ago, which Jumper, Nubia Federico, and Rebecca Acklen thought would be ideal to engage students’ critical thinking.
Their lesson plans centered around having students visiting the center choose objects and speculate what they were used for then discuss it.
“Text books think for you,” Federico said. “This helps them think for themselves. And 50 years from now it will be our iPhones, laptops, and stuff like that in here.”
Acklen said she hopes children see how technology has progressed.
“I want them to be able to express themselves and let their imaginations run wild,” she said.
Pfiester, who also serves on the Emery Center’s board of directors, said he hopes these lessons make field trips to the center more meaningful. The lesson plans should be posted on the center’s website by spring.
“Too often schooling is homogenized,” he said. “We depend on worksheets and textbooks and the Internet. I hope students start to see the beauty and contributions, especially of African Americans, in this area. It’s one thing to go on a tour, and a tour is fine, but this activity really forces them to look closely at the resources there.”
Curtis Rivers, director of the center, said he’s glad to be partnering with the College on this project.
“I’ve always said I wanted the Emery Center to be a vehicle for education,” Rivers said. “This will give future teachers an opportunity to see what our center has to offer. They’ll carry this with them. This is a good partnership.”
Dionna Reynolds, a spokeswoman for the center, said she’s glad for the collaboration.
“Utilizing the center’s vast collection of artifacts and memorabilia to comprise educator lesson plans allows us to continue in our efforts to educate and celebrate the contributions of our diverse community from a multicultural perspective,” she said. “The Emery Center’s mission is to ‘promote an awareness of African American culture and heritage while fostering an atmosphere of trust, integrity, and respect for all cultures.’ Once developed we plan to upload the lessons for use by educators around the world via our website. We look forward to a continued partnership with Dalton State and respect their commitment to educational excellence.”
Another group slowly made its way around the military room, pausing to read the names and look at the photos of black men and women who served.
“It’s intriguing,” said Dalton State student Serena Pinno. “We have a lot of people from Dalton in here. There are people from our community and from our families that served for us. The Emery Center has a lot of potential.”
Pinno’s group was planning a scavenger hunt where students would have to find a certain person and/or event in each room of the center.
Another group of students decided to use the Civil Rights room to help students explore little known facts about some of the leaders of that movement.
“This is a really interesting place,” said Dalton State student Courtney Mest. “I think this is fun. Not many people know this place exists so we’re helping to bring a little light back to it.”