Through grant, area teachers schooled in art of war

Published 5:00 am Thursday, June 2, 2005

Teachers from Lawrence and Simpson counties are in schooltoday.

Approximately 60 teachers from the two counties areparticipating in a seminar titled “Civil War Mississippi:Mississippi is Middle Ground.” The seminar is funded through a $1million Teaching American History Grant, which the Lawrence andSimpson county districts paired to receive through the federalDepartment of Education. Other grant partners include William CareyCollege, Copiah-Lincoln Community College, the Lawrence CountyHistorical Society and the state Department of Archives andHistory.

The focus of the seminar, which began Tuesday and continuesthrough Thursday at the Lawrence County Civic Center, is role ofMississippi in the war and “how it connects to many other aspectsof the war and the history of that period,” said Dr. Myron C.Noonkester, a professor from William Carey College who is teachingthe teachers.

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Although the seminar targets history, it is open to allteachers, said grant coordinator Ronnie Morgan, a Lawrence CountySchool District teacher.

“A lot of them are history teachers, but some of them are not. Alot of what we’re discussing can be used in a lot of otherdisciplinary areas,” Noonkester said, citing American literatureand others.

Noonkester said he encourages the sessions to be interactive andfor teachers to offer their opinions on his interpretation of theevents and to ask questions about the facts presented.

“It’s a good opportunity to have an exchange of ideas ascolleagues,” he said.

Morgan said he was appreciative of William Carey College andNoonkester for providing the opportunity for the teachers.

“I’d rather have content than teaching methods,” he said. “If itcan get teachers excited about their material then the studentswill get excited and that excitement will drive them to want tolearn more.”

The Civil War seminar is the first of several that will befunded by the grant, Morgan said. A second installment will be heldJune 28-30 to instruct the educators on the latest in teachingmethods.

“That’s all for this summer. We’ll have more workshops duringthe year,” he said.

The workshops will center on teaching traditional Americanhistory as themes, with each theme a separate academic subject.Major themes include Conflict, which is about the nation’s warsfrom the Revolutionary to the war in Iraq; Change/Expansion, aboutColonial times and the Manifest Destiny; and Captivity/HumanRights, which includes slavery, World War II internment camps andwomen’s suffrage; among others.

Within each theme, Morgan said, participating teachers willexplore the significant issues of the theme, its effects onindividual citizens, how it applied to the principles of freedomand democracy, the nation’s struggles and achievements and itssocial, political and legal institutions and relations.

“It will be a tremendous benefit to the district, especially tothose teachers who fully participate. Anything that helps a teacherbecome a better teacher is an asset to any district,” Morgansaid.

The grant provides funding for three years of programs.

Lawrence County was one of only two districts in the state toreceive the grant.