Athens Schools: Bringing history to the students

Pictured are Tioga Point Museum President Todd Babcock and Kristen Foster, who serves as one of the museum’s two liaisions with the Athens Area School District.

ATHENS -- A grant from the United Way of Bradford County has made it possible for the Tioga Point Museum to develop and implement a new cooperative program with the Athens Area School District.

That program was the focus of a presentation made to the members of the district's board of education this week by Tioga Point Museum President Todd Babcock and Kristen Foster, who -- along with Nicholas Soprano -- serves as the liaisons between the museum and the school.

Babcock explained that in addition to the grant from the United Way, the museum received funding from his employer -- Williams -- for this cooperative effort between the Tioga Point facility and the school district.

"The idea is to work between the museum and the school district to take the museum to the school," he said. "So what Kristen and Nicholas have been doing is working with the teachers and looking at the curriculum to try and determine what (the students) are learning about and what we may have in the museum that we can take from the museum to make it a little more of a better learning experience for them."

Foster and Soprano began their work on this cooperative program in October, said Babcock.

"We're at the point now where we are looking at applying for the grant again through the United Way for the 2019 (school) year," he said.

Foster said the work of the museum's liaisons have focused on six presentations for students in sixth grade and higher.

"We started with sixth grade," she said. "We did a geography course where we brought in historic maps, surveying artifacts and talked about local historic surveyors, and how the town was created."

The liaisons also went to the eighth-grade classes where they focused on Native American history and brought artifacts dealing with that subject for the students to look at, said Foster.

"We try to incorporate primary sources as well to correlate with what the kids are studying now and give some sort of curriculum with the presentations," she said.

In the ninth- and 10th-grade classrooms, the programs focused on World War I, said Foster.

"We had an entire collection of Private Rinebold, who served in the ambulance corp. during World War I," she said. "Students were able to follow the timeline of his life during that time as an ambulance corp. (member). We created this presentation with questions, critical thinking, and what we found that a lot teachers are appreciating is there is a different learning style for every student, and a lot of students who may not have been just textbook learners, are really engaging in this type of learning. That's something that we focus on now as we build this type of job through the museum."

The liaisons plan some additional presentations during the spring that focus on the Bradford County election process, said Foster.

"We're going to build a timeline using different propaganda that we have, as well as different literature and artifacts so that students ... can understand the Bradford County election process," she said.

Some of the other initiatives that the liaisons are working on is a walking tour through all of the historic sites in the area in May and putting together a "traveling trunk" that will be filled with several artifacts from Europe and Asia that were donated by a local patron, said Foster.

That trunk will be utilized in the seventh-grade classes as those students are currently studying world history, she said.

"Our hope is to bring them (the students) into the museum and bring history into the school, and everybody wins," she said.

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