Tighter education budgets and Spring testing schedules present challenges for teachers trying to schedule field trips for their students.
Chestnut Square Historic Village stepped into the breach this Spring, collaborating with MISD Elementary Coordinator for Social Studies, Ramona Savage, to pilot unique history outreach programs for 4th and 5th graders at each school.
"We knew it was getting harder and harder for the schools to schedule Spring field trips with their limited budgets and TAKS testing so we looked at ways to take history to them." said Cindy Johnson, Executive Director at Chestnut Square Historic Village. "We targeted the programs at the 4th and 5th grade and developed a Butterfield Stage Coach program for 4th graders and a Civil War program for 5th graders."
In the 4th grade program, two MISD schools were paired and students wrote letters to each other about what it was like to move west to McKinney in 1857 and what they found when they got to McKinney.
"The teachers put a lot of work in with the students talking about what westward immigration was like and what McKinney looked like in the 1850's. The students letters really reflected their knowledge of McKinney's past." Said LaDonna Doyle, Education Director at Chestnut Square.
On the day of the outreach program, Ben Buckwalter arrived with his restored Butterfield stagecoach to deliver the letters to each school. Students learned about the stagecoach and the impact it had on westward migration.
The program ended with class pictures in front of the stagecoach. The 5th grade Civil War program was equally interactive with volunteers playing the parts of a Confederate Civil War soldier and a woman living during the Civil War. Students learned about life back home in McKinney during the Civil War and the life of a soldier. Students could attend Civil War Days during April at Chestnut Square to see a recreation of both Confederate and Yankee campsites, Civil War surgery demonstrations and a recreation of a Civil War skirmish.
"The outreach programs from Chestnut Square were educational and awesome," said Ramona Savage, MISD. "Each campus and grade level has given such positive feedback and have spoken of the high level of engagement that went on with each program. Chestnut Square really brings history alive for our students."