Fourth grade students at Woodward Elementary in Delaware conducted unusual research in the library this week while taking part in a scavenger hunt designed to teach them about local black historical figures.
The project was led by English learners teacher Breanne Reamsnider and was the result of a partnership with the Delaware County Historical Society.
Reamsnider said she brought in local historian Watson Walker Jr., who taught students about the history of Woodward as well as the school it replaced, South School. Walker said he thought it was important that students knew the history of the school and local community.
Reamsnider then arranged a special scavenger hunt this week and gave students clues that led them to a book, which contained another clue and fact about a local historical figure.
Reamsnider said she got the idea from driving to the school every day and passing so many historical markers, and then seeing the school’s Black History Month celebration last year.
“(The celebration) was very interesting, but it was nothing local,” Reamsnider said. “I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be so much more cool and meaningful to do something about local history, because there’s a lot here.’ I thought it’d be a great opportunity to bring (local black history) here.”
Reamsnider said she got the green light for the project from Woodward Principal Eric Barr, and she began working with Walker to organize the scavenger hunt.
Walker said he enjoyed working on the project with students.
“I thought it was well done,” Walker said. “My idea is that we’re helping society to introduce themselves to black history they’ve never heard before.”
The students were assisted by Walker, librarian Robyn Kress, and Delaware County Historical Society President Emeritus Brent Carson, who helped students decipher the clues and find the right books.
Carson said he enjoyed seeing students energized about local history.
“I think it’s a great project,” he said. “Certainly brings history into their own neighborhood. Teaches a lot of library skills as well as local history. It’s great to have all this history preserved, too. It’s a great lesson in history, and (I’m glad they’re) able to do this in their own library.”
Reamsnider said the project fulfills many of the state’s standards for fourth grade, including Ohio history and working on timelines, which the students will have to do about their subject.
When the weather warms up, Reamsnider added, Walker will take students on a walking tour around the Woodward neighborhood and show them local historical sites in the city’s Second Ward.
“I think it’s really cool for students to see,” Reamsnider said. “Why wouldn’t we want to learn about it and take advantage of that. It was an opportunity just waiting to be explored, and it’s organic. It’s obvious that we should be studying local people.”
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.