CHATTANOOGA (WRCB)- Angie Deere is a fifth grade teacher at Calvin Donaldson Environmental Academy in Chattanooga. She was born and raised in rural northeast Alabama, where she still lives, and more than an hour to work each day. She grew up in an all-white world, and now teaches mostly black children.
That's why it's important to her to teach them about the world they live in now, compared to that of those who came before them. She designed a study of civil rights for her class in this year's second semester.
The halls outside her classroom are lined with the history of the civil rights movement: the marches, the speeches, the discrimination. At a time when many schools don't even have time to observe Black History Month, Deere makes time, because she says, "I'm passionate about teaching history, and this is recent history that has made an impact on these childrens' lives."
The students, mostly 10 or 11 years old, are fortunate to be in a school that's bright, warm and welcoming, with modern learning tools. Through this class, they're learning that their grandparents had to settle for much less.
Jamilia Macon said she had heard of Rosa Parks and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., but was unfamiliar with others who had been a part of the struggle. "I want to really thank them," she said. "They were getting beaten up and not allowed to eat or ride the bus with everyone else, but now we are getting our education and doing what we want to do."
Classmate Atoria Flowers said, "I interviewed my grandmother and learned that we have it better because we are equal. It was not like that for her. We are all together, we're equal."
After doing the research, interviewing local family members and history makers who walked the walk in the 1960s, and touring the local African-American History Museum, the fifth graders have a new appreciation of the civil rights movement.
Deere said this project should be very useful for students when TCAP exams begin in a few days, because it helped with their reading skills, their comprehension and their writing."