In a nationwide contest to celebrate Black History Month and innovative teachers, 12th grade teacher Elizabeth Renneisen of Tyner Academy and her students Darrius Wright, Valicia Powell, and Deric Ison took home top prizes for The HistoryMakers’ 2012 Digital Archive Curriculum Competition. The competition asked teachers to design a lesson plan around The HistoryMakers Digital Archive (http://idvl.org/thehistorymakers) and submit both their curriculum and the resulting student work. The HistoryMakers is the nation’s largest African American archive.
Ms. Renneisen’s lesson plan was based around Fences by August Wilson, and incorporated guest interviews with local African American athletes, including Atlanta Braves’ hitting coach Jamie Dismuke, Florida Firecats retired Arena Football player Dedric Maffett, Oakland Raiders’ football player Terdell Sands, New Orleans Saints Reggie Mathis, and Philadelphia 76er Rashad Jones-Jennings. Renneisen’s majority black students used the Digital Archive, Fences, and in-person interviews with local African American athletes to research the effect of professional athletics in African American culture. Wright, Powell, and Ison all wrote moving essays incorporating knowledge they learned by watching the oral histories of African Americans, including Chicago Bear’s football player Dave Duerson, high school basketball coach Sanford Roach, Negro League baseball player Ted “Double Duty” Radcliffe, Chicago Cubs baseball player Ernie Banks, and sports reporter Roger Wilkins. Renneisen’s lesson plan was praised for both its incorporation of the Digital Archive’s wealth of stories as well as challenging students to think beyond the “standard British literature canon” about African American culture, and create well-written MLA-style papers.
“Elizabeth Renneisen is a dedicated, world-class teacher and we are so proud to have her affiliated with our program and to have her bring the Digital Archive to her students” said Julieanna Richardson, founder and executive director of The HistoryMakers. “Education is what our project is all about.”
A two-time Digital Archive Competition winner, and a graduate of The HistoryMakers’ 2010 National Endowment for the Humanities’ (NEH) Summer Institute on African American Political History: From Reconstruction to the Present, Renneisen will join The HistoryMakers’ 2012 NEH Summer as a Visiting Lecturer, where she will share her own success incorporating The HistoryMakers’ Digital Archive and African American Political History into a K-12 classroom.
The HistoryMakers is a national 501(c)(3) non-profit research and educational institution dedicated to recording and preserving the personal histories of well-known and unsung African Americans. The goal is to create an archive of 5,000 interviews (7,000 hours) of professionally recorded video – creating a one-of-a–kind digital archive and a priceless educational resource. Currently, the archive houses over 2,000 biographies, or 200 days worth of video footage documenting narratives and historical movements. For more information, visit The HistoryMakers website at www.thehistorymakers.com.