‘Discovering Alabama’ episode featuring AES students wins Emmy

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 18, 2019

An episode of “Discovering Alabama,” which featured students at Andalusia Elementary School won an Emmy recently.

The episode “Discovering Alabama: State Archives” aired in September 2018 and followed fifth graders on their field trip to the Alabama Department of Archives and History in May 2018.

AES teacher Jessica Tucker said she was excited to hear from Roger Reid the writer, director and producer of the series on APT that the episode earned the Emmy.

“Mr. Reid and I have known each other for several years because of his middle-grade fiction novel, ‘Longleaf,’” Tucker said. “I began reading the book with my fifth graders at Andalusia Elementary and it quickly became a favorite of my students year after year.”

Tucker said that former AES science teacher Deb Hughes organized a field trip for the fifth graders to Open Pond, which is the setting of the novel.

Tucker said that Reid takes time to come visit her class while they are reading the book each year.

In the summer of 2016, Tucker was selected to be one of 12 teachers in the state to be trained as an Alabama Bicentennial Master Teacher.

She spent a week at Archives being trained.

“Our week was filled with field trips, guest speakers, and resources that was truly a life-changing experience for the 12 of us,” she said. “The training made me fall in love with the state of Alabama and the rich history of our past. After our training, we were tasked with selecting our own topic to build a three-and-a-half day teacher workshop around. I immediately chose our state tree, the longleaf pine.”

Tucker said the bicentennial teachers train others teachers during the summers of 2017, 2018 and 2019.

“We want to share what we have learned and fallen in love with. Those teachers are then tasked with returning to their schools to lead their own trainings and inspire other educators to celebrate the history of Alabama. We want to show teachers how to use Alabama history in a cross-curricular way. Alabama history is addressed in our state course-of-study in fourth grade, but our students deserve so much more opportunities to learn about our state, and we want to share ways that teachers can do this.”

Through Tucker’s connection with Reid, the AES fifth grade was invited on a field trip to the Archives to be featured in this special bicentennial episode that Reid was working on.

“He also wanted to bring the ‘Discovering Alabama’ film crew to our school and video some of our Alabama history lessons to be featured in the show,” Tucker said. I was so excited that of all the schools in Alabama, he chose us to participate. This was a great opportunity for our students and we eagerly accepted his invitation.”