Whitman College students become teachers of the Civil Rights era in innovative partnership program
Whitman College, in partnership with Walla Walla Public Schools and the Southern Poverty Law Center, is coordinating the Whitman Teaches the Movement initiative to enhance civil rights education for Walla Walla students in grades 2, 5, 7 and 11, to coincide with Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
Whitman College students, working in pairs, will travel to all 10 WWPS schools Jan. 22 to February 1 to lead 45- minute lessons on civil rights education. The lessons are age-appropriate and based on curriculum developed by history teachers and organizations which specialize in teaching American history. More than 40 classes throughout the District are scheduled to enjoy these sessions during the two weeks.
The participating college students have volunteered their time and efforts, which included attending training sessions held in December given by Michelle Marsh Garcia, an education consultant and trainer for the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Student Lessons by Grade Level:
- Second Grade: Greensboro lunch counter sit-ins
- Fifth Grade: The friendship between Jackie Robinson and Pee Wee Reese
- Seventh Grade: Women in the civil rights movement
- Eleventh Grade: Dr. King’s Letter from Birmingham Jail
The Southern Poverty Law Center reports its research has discovered two-thirds of all states, including Washington, fail at teaching a milestone period in American history -- the civil rights movement.
Walla Walla Public Schools Superintendent Mick Miller says collaborating with Whitman College on this project allows the District to enhance learning opportunities and better utilize a valued and trusted community asset.
"We chose to participate in the Whitman Teaches the Movement project because we wanted our students to learn more about the civil rights movement, have strong role models in our classrooms, and to strengthen our ties to Whitman College," Miller said.
Noah Leavitt, Whitman assistant dean for student engagement, is managing the college's involvement in the program and says this, "We are delighted that Whitman students will again have the opportunity to engage with Walla Walla students around these critical topics in our nation’s story, and to think hard about issues of non-discrimination, justice and citizenship in a way that enables them to effectively participate in and become leaders in our community."
Walla Walla Public Schools Assistant Superintendent Dr. Linda Boggs says the project supports the district’s curriculum and provides a venue for Walla Walla students to interact with college role models.
"I am especially excited about the custom-designed grade-level lessons and materials," said Boggs. "Additionally, having college students as guest teachers provides an opportunity for our students to get a real life glimpse into 'college,' as many students, especially younger ones, may know college as a word but not have a clear picture of what it might look like."