The Robert Russa Moton Museum held its inaugural class for educators this summer, where instructors in grades K-12 could learn in depth about the Moton story and the roles that segregation, desegregation, and Massive Resistance had on education and civil rights, and the effects it continues to have into the present.
The Moton Museum Children of Courage Teacher Institute, a virtual, four-day program, held between June 28-July 2, enrolled 33 educators, with 38 educators on a wait list.
The institute included segments from Dr. Larissa Smith, Moton Resident Scholar and Professor of History at Longwood University; Dr. J. Michael Utzinger, Moton Resident Scholar and Elliott Professor of Religion at Hampden-Sydney College; Dr. Brian Daugherity, Associate Professor of History at Virginia Commonwealth University, and Jonathan Page, Director of Multicultural Affairs and Title VI Coordinator at Longwood University.
The class filled up in three days, Moton Assistant Director of Education Leah Brown said.
The rapid enrollment “really reinforces the importance of this history, and of having teachers who are open to having these conversations with students,” Brown said.
The institute is part of a larger Young Visitors initiative at the museum, which aims for the museum to not only be a resource for students in education civil rights, but for teachers as well.
“We wanted to find a way for teachers to dig deep into this history,” Brown said. “It’s not simple.”
The Moton Museum collaborated with Longwood University’s College of Graduate and Professional Studies for the institute. Brown said the college made the virtual professional development program the best it could be.
“They were wonderful,” Brown said.
Dianne Carter de Mayo was one of the 33 educators who participated in the institute. Carter de Mayo, who teaches 11th grade Virginia and U.S. History teacher at Gloucester County High School, attended the event with a few friends and fellow educators.
She said the ease with which the virtual forum was carried out, the opportunity to interact with the scholars, as well as meet educators from various experience levels, made the institute that much more rewarding.
“It was really powerful,” Carter de Mayo said.
She said many of the activities the educators took part in and the tools used could easily be adapted to the K-12 classroom. For example, they took part in an assignment to create a highway marker that used accessible education tools such as Padlet.
Carter de Mayo praised the institute leaders, particularly Brown, who said she brought everyone together.
“Leah just made us feel welcome,” Carter de Mayo said, “and she handled complicated subjects in a professional manner.”
Brown said the museum’s goal for the institute is to not only allowed educators and the museum to connect with one another, but for the museum to be an asset for educators learning and teaching history and civil rights in education.
“Moton is going to be a resource always for them,” Brown said.
Carter de Mayo said she would participate in future educator programs at the museum without hesitation.
“There is always more to learn,” she said.