A group of 23 public school teachers from across South Carolina reversed roles and became students recently when they participated in the “2018 School Desegregation in South Carolina” Summer Teacher Institute.
The institute was sponsored by the S.C. African American Heritage Commission (SCAAHC), whose mission is to identify and promote the preservation of historic sites, structures, buildings, and culture of the African American experience in South Carolina and to assist and enhance the efforts of the S.C. Department of Archives and History.
“The five-day Summer Institute’s purpose was to provide teachers with additional resources they can use to enhance their teaching of the state’s history that reflects African American heritage,” said Jannie Harriot, vice chair of SCAAHC and executive director of its fundraising arm, the S.C. African American Heritage Foundation (SCAAHF).
“The … institute [helps] teachers create lesson plans for grades K-12 based on the public school desegregation lawsuits in Darlington and Clarendon counties: Stanley v. the Darlington County Board of Education and Briggs v. Elliot, respectively,” Harriot said. “So, we applied to the S.C. Arts Commission for a grant to conduct this institute and to bring teachers together to write the plans.”
Wallace Foxworth is an eighth-grade social studies instructor who teaches South Carolina history at Johnakin Middle School in Marion. He said the institute expanded his understanding of how school desegregation happened. Meeting people involved with those cases, such as Nathaniel Briggs, the son of Harry Briggs, Sr., lead plaintiff in Briggs v. Elliott, and Joseph DeLaine, Jr., whose father was also involved in the case was inspirational.
“I wanted to gain a better view of what is out there beside what we find in the textbooks,” Foxworth said. “The textbooks have a certain slant on history, and sometimes the slant is misguided concerning the contributions of African Americans in history. To be a more effective history teacher and bring more balance to history, this is something I feel is necessary.”
In addition to learning about the school desegregation cases, institute participants also learned about other facets of South Carolina African American history that they can incorporate into lesson plans. Mary Hoyt, a music teacher who teaches strings to fifth- and sixth-grade students at Chapin Intermediate School in Chapin said that she already has some ideas about how to incorporate information she learned about jazz great and Cheraw native Dizzy Gillespie into lesson plans.
“I just love history,” Hoyt said. “I am not from South Carolina and I find South Carolina to be a fascinating place with so many layers of history. I welcome the chance to learn more and enrich my classroom for my students. I feel privileged to be here.”
The teachers will submit 20 lesson plans that will go into a teacher’s guide that the S.C. Department of Education will disseminate across the state for teachers to use in their classrooms, Harriot said.
Teachers who participated in the institute included Jasmine Govan, Stephanie Gold, and Kay Ingram of Richland District 1; Melinda Hanna, Allison Geddings, Joceline Murdock, and Ashley Rogers of Darlington County School District; Andrea Walker from Allendale County Schools; Wallace Foxworth from Marion County Schools; Amy Robinson of the Beaufort School District; Mary Hoyt, Lexington/Richland School District Five; Tracy Carter, Lisa Hyman, and Michael Jenkins from Florence District 1; Wonda Hilliard of Greenville County Schools; Brian Day of Calhoun County Schools; Barbara Bodison from Berkeley County Schools; Coastal Carolina University English Professor Dr. Veronica Gerald; South Carolina State University student Enifinette; and retired educator Patricia Evans Hall.
Institute presenters included:
- Jean Grosser, professor of art, Coker College
- Joy Young, S.C. Arts Commission
- Dr. Larry D. Watson, professor of history, South Carolina State University and the University of South Carolina
- Dr. Bobby Donaldson, professor of history, University of South Carolina and the Center for Civil Rights History and Research at USC
- Dr. Valinda Littlefield, director of African American studies, University of South Carolina
- Dr. Louis Venters, associate professor of history, Francis Marion University
- Dr. Jennifer Heusel, assistant professor of communication, Coker College
- Brian Gandy, Darlington County Historical Commission
- Felicia Flemming McCall, Southern African American Heritage Center
- Cecil Williams, photographer
- Joseph DeLaine, Briggs v. Elliott
- Nathaniel Briggs, Briggs v. Elliott
- James Felder, historian
- Alada Shinault Small, historian and Charleston tour guide