TEACHING THE BICENTENNIAL: Tucker to train teachers for state’s 200th anniversary

Published 1:25 am Saturday, April 1, 2017

The Alabama Bicentennial Commission has chosen an Andalusia Elementary School teacher as one of 12 master teachers.

Jessica Tucker

Jessica Tucker, a fifth grade teacher at AES, and 11 of her colleagues will lead Bicentennial Professional Development Institutes for third through fifth grade teachers from across the state over the next three summers.

Tucker, who teaches English language arts and U.S. history, said after teaching history to fifth graders for 13 years, she has become more interested in state history. AES principal Alane Brunson asked Tucker to consider participating in the Bicentennial Comission’s project.

“It sounded like something I would be interested in, and I loved it,” she said.

She and her colleagues spent five days in Montgomery last summer, studying and experiencing Alabama history, including visits to the Rosa Parks Museum, Ft. Toulouse, and the Freedom Riders Museum.

“It helped us learn the history of the state and the resources we have available,” she said.

This summer, she’ll work with a content specialist, Dr. Bob Saunders, professor of history at Troy University Dothan, to train 30 teachers. At the end of the three-year program, she and her colleagues will have trained 1,080 teachers across the state.

And she couldn’t be happier with the topic – “Long Leaf: The History of an Agricultural State,” she said.

“I’m super excited about it,” she said. “I use Longleaf by Roger Reid with my students, and I’ve fallen in love with it.”

The novel, written for middle school students, is set in the Conecuh National Forest. AES students not only like the story, she said, but also are fortunate to be able to visit Open Pond in the Conecuh each spring, and Reid is a frequent visitor to her classes.

“Basically what we’ll be doing with teachers is talking about how to take our history and bring it to third through fifth graders.”

The Bicentennial Commission has provided Tucker with an OzoBot. The tiny robot can be programmed to help students learned history. For instance, she can take a map of Alabama and mark a route so that the students learn DeSoto’s route through Alabama.

The commission also provided master teachers with Breakout EDU, a learning games platform. In turn, she will use the learning aides to provide ideas to teachers this summer.

Bicentennial Master Teachers and the Bicentennial Professional Development Institutes have been created under the leadership of Karen Porter, ARI Program Coordinator for the State Department of Education, and Steve Murray, Director of the Alabama Department of Archives and History. These initiatives are part of a statewide program spanning the three years of Alabama’s bicentennial commemoration, 2017-2019. This educational program is just one of the many ways the Alabama Bicentennial Commission is celebrating Alabama’s 200th year of statehood.

The teacher institutes will be held June 19-22 in the Johnson Center for the Arts. Teachers can find out how to apply by visiting the bicentennial website at www.ALABAMA200.org.