Know Our History

The site of my school has a history. On February 2, 1959, four black students integrated what was then called Stafford Junior High, an all-white secondary school. It also was the first integrated secondary school in my town and also in the entire Commonwealth of Virginia.

Four years ago when the buiding on this site was being renovated and an addition was being added, the district decided the school would become a middle school and it needed a new name. Dorothy Hamm was the strong advocate would fought against school segregation and her name was picked. Now I proudly teach at Dorothy Hamm Middle School.

My principal is dedicated to ensuring all staff and students know who Dorothy Hamm is and what our school history is. This year, she proposed teacher teams participate in a Scavenger Hunt to be reminded of our history. I took her idea and made these directions. Then my collegues ran with it! I am so proud of all the exploring and learning that occurred during pre-service week! ALL their photos on this Padlet made me smile.

Do you know your town’s history? Specifically, do you know its civil rights history? I encourage you to be curious and do some research. At our staff meeting on Friday, I awarded a few teams with prizes – 1st team to complete this homework, team who visited ALL the sites on the list, team with the most creative photos and the one with the most inspiring sentence description. Then I reminded all of Maya Angelou’s quote:

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

I do feel that by knowing my town’s civil rights history, I can and will do better.
How about you?

Dorothy Hamm – she fought and won to integrate Arlington, VA schools

6 thoughts on “Know Our History

  1. Erika says:

    This is so inspirational! What an opportunity to learn more local history and a great way for teams to get to know each other better in the process. I love the scavenger hunt idea (we had a scavenger hunt this year as part of our inservice day, but not with a historical focus). Thanks for sharing. That quote is one of my favorites too!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. margaretsmn says:

    You make a good point about knowing your history. It helps ground us in the here and now when we know from whence we came. Your school has a proud history. I’ve been collaborating with the founder of the African American Historical Society in my town and ours is not a nice history. We need to know the good and the bad.


    • sallydonnelly11 says:

      It’s a proud history but also not a nice history. It took years for schools to intergrate after Brown vs Board. My state of VA has a governor who promoted massive resisitence and school would rather close than be integrated. I bet their are people in your town who fought for justice for all. Your town needs to know their names!


  3. Joanne Goodwin says:

    What a worthwhile and meaningful welcome back activity!! YOU. Are. AMAZING!!!

    Starting treatment today! I got this! Love, Joanne

    Sent from my iPad


    Liked by 1 person

  4. Fran McCrackin says:

    What leadership you are showing at your school, to create this scavenger hunt and padlet and way of discovering and sharing centered around your school’s founding. I read the entire pallet. It made me reflect about how recent this history is, how undiscovered it can be, how important to bring it into EVERYONE’S consciousness. I have to consider how the barbershop owner must feel, having all those teacher-teams enthusiastically visiting! Your staff has diversity, and are learning together. To the people in our country who feel this would be a hurtful experience, we can see how ridiculous that position is. Well done, you!


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