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Making a brighter future:
Maryland Department of Education partners with the MAAHC

The Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture has teamed up with the Maryland Department of Education to reach more than 850,000 students and 50,000 teachers. This will be the first time that a museum of African American history and culture and a state department of education have worked together to assemble educational material and museum content simultaneously.

Maryland public school students will not only visit the museum but also engage in pre- and post-visit activities. A curriculum will be developed to aid teachers in highlighting the achievements of African Americans.

The museum knows the importance of investing in the future, which is why one of its main goals is to reduce the African American student achievement gap. Another goal is to cultivate a greater understanding among all people.

“The museum gives school children a marvelous example of how individuals have contributed to the prominence of the state and how they have overcome adversity,” said Director of Education A.T. Stephens.

The MAAHC and MSDE will develop a curriculum around history, culture and art to motivate children to want to learn about their past. The curriculum will include teacher training programs along with 45 lesson plans for them to choose from.

“Some teachers will do one lesson for Black History Month, others will do a dozen,” said Stephens.

With fun learning activities and detailed lesson plans, Stephens hopes that teachers will take advantage of the opportunity.

“After teaching in an inner city middle school, I see this museum and added curriculum as a positive thing,” said Susan Smith, who is currently teaches at Cockeysville Middle School.

“It is important for students to see African Americans, not just in the oppressed state, as so many novels in our curriculum portray; but also in many other ways. Let students see the heritage as well as the accomplishments and success in all areas of life,” said Smith.

State Superintendent of Education Nancy S. Grasmick selected a team of scholars, museum staff, historians and educators to serve on the MSDE / Museum Education Task Force. They will be the creators of the concept and curriculum. The elementary and middle school lessons will be completed in time for the 2004 – 2005 school year. Soon after, the task force will concentrate on creating a high school curriculum.

The curriculum will follow three modes of learning:

  • Experiential learning, which promises that students will be able to learn by doing. The museum was built with an interactive learning environment in mind.

  • Extended learning, which guarantees the students will be involved whether they are at the museum, in school activities or in community outreach programs. In order to make the museum more than just a field trip, the students will be expected to prepare by researching key topics before arriving.

  • Applied learning, in which students are challenged to take what they have learned and use it to solve problems in the future. After the visit, they will also take part in post-museum activities. Reviewing and analyzing the information will allow students to use their new knowledge in their everyday lives. The material will be packaged in an innovative format that will inspire and empower students to think more freely.

The museum will have a calendar of programs and services for families, child and youth, and adult audiences. Students, teachers and parents of all ethnicities will learn the important and unique contributions of Maryland African Americans.

The program will directly aid the achievement of students in social studies. It will also help teachers come up with more creative lesson plans.

The MAAHC and the MSDE have created their own special piece of history by doing exactly what they are teaching about, creating opportunities when there seem to be none.

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