Tyner Middle teacher Amanda Davidson rings Katie Fields bell
The Coolidge National Medal of Honor Heritage Center announced the first recipient of the Katie Fields Bell Fellow Award – Amanda Davidson, social studies teacher at Tyner Middle Academy.
Earlier this year, the Heritage Center launched its inaugural Teacher Fellowship Program "that exposes classroom teachers to the incredible history surrounding the Medal of Honor and works with them to create instructional materials and lesson plans that use the stories of Medal of Honor recipients in ways that align with the Tennessee Academic Standards."
Officials said, "As more teachers complete this program, the Heritage Center will become even more accessible to teachers and students of all grade levels and provide new learning opportunities for students attending schools across our state, region and country."
Ms. Davidson received the Katie Fields Bell Fellow Award for creating a “Women in War” lesson plan for fourth graders that highlights the various roles women served in during the Civil War and is aligned with the Tennessee State Standard to teach the significant contributions women made during the Civil War. While Dr. Mary Edwards Walker, a civilian surgeon during the Civil War and the only female to have received the Medal of Honor, is not mentioned in this specific standard, Ms. Davidson crafted the lesson to have students work in groups to explore the contributions of some of the most influential women during the Civil War, including Dr. Walker. The lesson also encourages students to consider the character values she exhibited and how they, too, can live those values out at school and in their communities.
“A core part of our mission at the Coolidge National Medal of Honor is to honor the past by educating and inspiring the next generation through the stories of Medal of Honor recipients and the six values the Medal of Honor represents,” said Maranda Wilkinson, director of education and public programming at the Coolidge National Medal of Honor Heritage Center. “The goal of our Fellowship program is to expose teachers to the stories of Medal of Honor recipients and closely work with them to craft engaging lesson plans aligned with state standards that also weave these inspiring stories and the character values associated with the Medal of Honor into the educational materials for use in classrooms.”
Other members of this inaugural cohort for the Heritage Center’s Teacher Fellowship Program include Matt Henson, teacher at Ooltewah High School; Melissa Thompson, teacher at Westview Elementary School; Tiffany Smith, teacher at Hamilton County Virtual School; Daniel Bennett, teacher at Red Bank Middle School; Andrea Clifford, teacher at Signal Mountain Middle High School; Mendi Catlett, teacher at Ooltewah Elementary; Karen Fogo, teacher at Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy; Susannah Jacobs, teacher at Thrasher Elementary; Bruce Stubblefield, Secondary Social Studies Content Lead for Hamilton County Schools; and Bekah Reed, Elementary Social Studies Content Lead for Hamilton County Schools.
The Heritage Center’s Teacher Fellowship Program was made possible through a generous gift from Sarah and Harry Fields and General B.B. Bell, who was married to Katie Fields Bell for 54 years before she passed away peacefully at her home on May 10, 2023. Throughout her life, Mrs. Bell devoted herself to not only her family but the military families around the world where her husband was stationed. She was instrumental in forming different military family resource groups to help families in crisis or facing challenges. She also took spouses’ concerns to Washington several times seeking and gaining solutions to the problems faced by all families during times of war. When she saw a need, she took action - an action in itself that cemented her legacy as a tireless advocate for those who were serving our country and their families.
Ms. Wilkinson continued, “Ms. Davidson created an exceptional lesson plan that focused on bringing students together to work collaboratively and explore the life of Dr. Mary Walker, a woman who was recognized for her relentless efforts during the Civil War to better the lives of others. Her story of courage, sacrifice, and commitment is truly reflective of Mrs. Katie Fields Bell and her own work on behalf of veterans and their families throughout her life and career.”
Ms. Davidson received the Katie Fields Bell Fellow Award during a special banquet on Sept. 11 at the Heritage Center. In addition to receiving $500 to be utilized on further professional development or in the classroom, she received a vintage railroad bell to symbolize Chattanooga as the Birthplace of the Medal of Honor, the first recipients of the Medal of Honor – members of the Andrews’ Raiders – and the hometown connection of the Fields and Bell families, and "to serve as a reminder that we are all called to action."
Each year, one of the 12 Teacher Fellows will be awarded a smaller railroad bell while a larger railroad bell will remain at the Heritage Center on display with the names of the Katie Fields Bell Teacher Fellows engraved on it.
During the banquet, the Heritage Center also recognized two other Teacher Fellows for their efforts in the program - Mendi Catlett and Andrea Clifford. Ms. Catlett took on the challenge of creating a STEM-based lesson to highlight Commander Richard “Dick” Scobee and the Space Medal of Honor. Her lesson will serve as a transition for groups visiting both the Heritage Center and the Challenger STEM Learning Center in Chattanooga. Ms. Clifford focused on Word War I and developed two lessons that highlighted Medal of Honor recipients Alvin York and Henry Johnson. For their above and beyond efforts in the program, each teacher received $250 to use in their classrooms or to utilize for further professional development.
Lessons referenced will soon be available for free on the center website. For teachers interested in participating in the 2024 class for the Heritage Center’s Teacher Fellow Program, applications can be submitted online starting Dec. 1. To learn more, please visit https://www.mohhc.org/learn/professional-development or contact Maranda Wilkinson at education@MOHHC.org.
2023 class of Teacher Fellows with Medal of Honor recipient Leroy Petry