MEBANE, N.C. — The bulletin boards at Woodlawn Middle School usually attract lots of attention during Black History month. But like the halls of the building right now, they are all empty.
The educators at the school still found a way to make sure students learn about the change makers in their own community.
Assistant Principal Rhoda Graves says what they did turned out better than anyone expected.
“Well, we knew we couldn’t do a traditional type of Black History Month celebration because we’re virtual,” she said. “So through conversation, we said, ‘Hey, what better way? What’s a good way to engage our students, our staff and our community in our Black History Month endeavor?’ And we said, ‘Why not feature Black excellence in Alamance County?'”
They decided to do it virtually so all the students could have access to it.
Linnea Coon is a technology and language arts teacher who helped to put it all together.
“We really wanted it to be an interactive bulletin board, something that they can hit play,” Coon said. “There’s music playing in the background that is from the 1920s, 30s, 40s that’s influenced in the background on top of people reading the biographies of each person. So, we wanted it to have that flavor as well.”
They quickly found that celebrating local excellence has a lot of benefits.
According to School Counselor Crystal Taylor, “It’s a great thing because a lot of my students who look like me don’t feel like they have an identity at all in the world. And that way they can see on this slide and see somebody that they can identify with and say, ‘Hey, I could be that attorney. Hey, I could meet that coach. Hey, I could be that.’ It gives them a sense of purpose in life. And maybe that could be the change agent for them.”
Social studies teacher Dawn Randleman has found another way to use the virtual bulletin board. She kicks off each day with a Black History Moment.
“They seem excited because I’ve also told them, you know, these are local members of our community and I’ve had several go, ‘Hey, I know that guy or live next door to him,'” she said. “So, you know, they feel it too. They feel that this is a good way to bring the community together.”
She says she’s noticed as her students get excited, their work gets better. That’s a win-win for everyone.