On Wednesday, May 13, five RCPS employees joined nearly 300 volunteers on various job sites across Rockingham County and Harrisonburg, participating in United Way’s Day of Caring. Our team visited two non-profits for a full day of giving back to the community. The team began at Plains Area Daycare where picnic tables were sanded and colorfully painted for their outside eating area and then moved to Rise where railings were scraped and the campus landscaped.
RCPS team members, April Soltis (Cub Run Elementary), Jimmy Miller (Spotswood High), Alexandra Johnston (John Wayland Elementary) and Cindy Parks (Central Office) were led by Tammy May, assistant principal at John C Myers Elementary, who is also the RCPS United Way liason.
United Way’s Day of Caring is a standard for community service in Harrisonburg. This year’s event organized 32 teams to support 26 non-profits with 66 projects.
Valuable Change at Plains
Last April, Mrs. Swartzentruber initiated a new program, “Small Change for Big Change,” to put books in the homes of students to help instill in the children at Plains a love for reading. Her “Quarter Store” has grown into a huge success by creating enthusiasm for reading among students while building community around the effort.
See and hear her passion and love for helping children as she discusses the project’s impact in this video: https://vimeo.com/127502030
Also, please read the DN-R article "Not Just a Two-Bit Library" which highlights Mrs. Swartzentruber's initiative.
Student groups from all four of Rockingham’s high schools participated in the "Farmville Tour Guides" project that immersed them in a pivotal chapter of Virginia’s civil rights history by leading an interactive walking tour of Farmville, Virginia. However, rather than listen to a tour guide’s interpretation of this story, these students conducted their own research, discovered stories of their own interest, and presented this information to their peers on a student-led field trip.
The project was funded by the Rockingham Educational Foundation, Inc. and was organized in cooperation with the Moton Museum in Farmville, Virginia. This museum is housed in the former R.R. Moton High School that previously served the black students of Prince Edward County. Virginia’s previous segregation policy not only separated students by race, but it also resulted in disproportionate funding that produced black schools that were overcrowded, inadequate, and unequal. On April 23,1951, a sixteen-year-old Junior named Barbara Johns led her R.R. Moton classmates to walk out in protest of these glaring inequalities. This historic demonstration evolved into a class-action lawsuit that was later combined with four other school desegregation cases that went before the Supreme Court in 1954 as Brown v. the Board of Education.
The “Farmville Tour Guides Project” enabled our students to share this inspirational story on the actual grounds where these events unfolded. It’s also important to note that our trip took place on Thursday, April 23, 2015 - the 64th anniversary of the R.R. Moton Student Strike! Securing this particular date also enabled us to invite a number of former Moton students to join us for the day - one of which was Mrs. Joan Johns Cobbs, the younger sister of strike leader, Barbara Johns. The field trip ended with a Q & A session with these guests and private tour of the Moton Museum.
The project also demonstrated how Google Classroom can reach students beyond the walls of the traditional classroom. Given that this project involved students and teachers from all four high schools, Google Classroom enabled everyone involved to collaborate as well as share news, updates, and resources related to the project.
Beau Dickenson, RCPS Social Studies Coordinator, worked with history teachers and students in the high schools to prepare for and conduct the day’s events. He expressed his extreme pleasure with the efforts of the students who traveled to Farmville to participate in this immersion into history, “This was one of my best days [as an educator]. The ERHS group that reenacted Barbara Johns' speech actually brought a tear to her sister's eye while she sat in the audience. I was on cloud nine all day long.”
Photos: Civil Rights History by Nikki Fox, DNR Photographer
DNR Coverage by Amelia Brust
"Farmville Tour Guides" Project Guidelines
DNR resources reposted with permission. RCPS thanks the Daily News-Record for its coverage of this important experience for our students.
Submitted by Dr. David Burchfield, Principal at John Wayland Elementary School
What an honor and privilege it was to attend the Earth Day reception at the Governor's Mansion in Richmond recently with my wife, Bonnie. I was invited to represent JWES and RCPS because of the environmental education programs at JWE and because we had been recognized as a Virginia Naturally School for 15 consecutive years (since the program's inception).
The photo collage includes pictures of the mansion and opportunities that Bonnie and I had to personally speak with Governor McAuliffe and the First Lady of Virginia.
I credit my teachers for their dedication and hard work, and for striving to make our students' education as meaningful and relevant as possible as they become the citizens and stewards of tomorrow.