Doors open educational knowledge of black history at RES

Ruston Elementary students and faculty alike are making lists and taking names – literally. 

To celebrate Black History Month, teachers decorated their classroom doors with facts about black leaders in a “Who am I?” challenge. Students – and teachers – read the information about the person and then guess who that individual is. 

“It’s been so fun,” said RES principal Mandy Brown. “The students will walk by the doors, and some of them will carry notebooks and take notes about what they see, so when they get back to their class, they can figure out who it is.” 

This is a new activity for the RES community, Brown said. 

“We try to do something different every year,” she said. “We had a committee of teachers come together, and everyone threw out ideas. This was an idea everyone really liked. It involved the whole school. With COVID, we can’t get together for big assemblies. This is a way we can celebrate all month and everyone can participate.” 

While each homeroom class decorated a door, Brown said all of the doors were decorated reflecting the theme of Black History Month this year, which focuses on health and wellness of African Americans. She said the doors of the homeroom classes focused on individuals in history as well as current black leaders students may see on the news – and in their community. 

“A couple of our doors are reflecting our (school security) officer, Mitch Jenkins,” Brown said. “Another of our doors celebrates Dr. Shontrece Dupree, our curriculum strategist. It’s people the students know and who they see every day.” 

Third grade teacher Hannah Hyatt said her classroom door had facts about Maya Angelou. 

“My classes are loving the doors,” Hyatt said. “They have loved going around to the different classrooms trying to figure out who is on the doors. Some were easy for them to figure out but others, sadly, they’d never even heard of before.” 

Brown, Hyatt and fourth-grade teacher Alison Rhodes said it was important to celebrate Black History Month in the school. 

“When a well-rounded curriculum of black history is presented in the classroom, the achievement of African American students increases,” Rhodes said. “Students begin to see themselves as achievers who can follow in the footsteps of their ancestors.” 

Rhodes added that teaching black history adds to the students’ understanding. 

“America has been described as a patchwork quilt which emphasizes the contributions of many,” Rhodes said. “When we as a people can acknowledge that each ethic group has made contributions to make this nation great, it adds to harmonious living.” 

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