Summertime means school for teachers

Published 11:19 am Saturday, June 29, 2013

by Felice Hancock

There are times when educators of grades K-12 stop teaching and sit in the student seat. For five Mondays this summer, starting July 8 and continuing through August 5, the Franklin Campus of Paul D. Camp Community College will offer three credit hours to further educate the educators. Humanities 211 is a class about Western Tidewater’s cultural landscape, covering the era from prehistory to 1820. (Note: another course, Humanities 212, will cover the region from 1820 to modern times, and will be offered as a hybrid class during Fall 2013 or Spring 2014 semester).

Humanities 211 will examine the elements of our national culture as these evolved from the appearance of American Indians; European explorations through colonization and independence; and, the force arrival of African Americans. This is a study geared toward Educators of kindergarten through 12th grades with instructional and/or professional responsibilities, who are seeking greater knowledge in the life-ways, history and society, and resulting culture contact. Emphasis of the course will focus on Western Tidewater (cities of Franklin and Suffolk and the counties of Isle of Wight, Southampton, Surry, and Sussex), permitting educators to discover relevant local venues and resources; to enhance their knowledge of the subject; and format this knowledge into their respective disciplines, including lesson plans and Standards of Learning correlations.

This course is not only of interest to history and civic teachers, but applicable to educators in art, music, science, mathematics, and language arts via the courses interdisciplinary approach. It is a course designed to acquaint educators with the resources in and about the region. Those resources include the cultural, historical and natural landscape but not trivial facts for quizzes or tests.

The area’s museums and historical societies are filled with books about local and natural history, which are often overlooked by the school systems as a resource. These local books, pamphlets, artifacts and other information are often single source items not found at bookstores or online. A goal of the course is to expose the teachers to this wealth of material.

The class lessons will be delivered through lectures, field trips, readings and the results of independent research by the educators in a respective topic of their choice. Guest lecturers, such as Dr. Michael Barber, the State Archaeologist of Virginia, will cover discussions such as the Algonquin and Iroquoian Indian cultures and contributions, as well as early colonial aspects of history.

Field trips will include a tour of the Joseph Pines Preserve in Sussex County to discuss the original natural resources of the region utilized by Native Americans and early colonial settlers. Dr. Phil Sheridan, President of the Meadowview Biological Research Station, will lead the tour. Sheridan has been a driving force for longleaf pine and pitcher plant preservation in the Commonwealth. The history of the longleaf pine, among the earliest of resources exported to England by colonists for naval store and for building materials, is an important but often overlooked record of Western Tidewater.

The Surry County Historical Society and African-American Society, with researchers Russell Hobson and Joe Jenkins, will relate their finds about the significant presence of Freedmen in the county around the Revolutionary War era. President Bess Richardson of the Historical Society will conduct a brief tour for teachers regarding the wealth of information available in Surry County’s archives.

Additionally, a tour of the vitality and importance of the region’s rivers will be discussed by the Blackwater Nottoway Riverkeeper Program’s Jeff Turner via his invaluable Eco-cruise.

It is a trite but true fact that we usually do not know what is in our own backyard. There is a wealth of knowledge to discover about Western Tidewater.

Further information about admission costs, fees and registration is available at or at the Admissions Office on the Franklin Campus. In addition, I can be reached at 757-569-6741.

Felice Hancock is an adjunct instructor at PDCCC. She also serves as the volunteer chair for the Western Tidewater Regional Humanities Council. Her email is