Marion Harding’s ‘History of Marion’ Class
In an effort to ingrain in Marion Harding students a sense of pride and genuine respect for their hometown, lifelong Marion resident and Marion Harding educator, Brett McCrery developed the History of Marion class for the 2016-17 school year. During that first year, McCrery had 75 bright-eyed and bushy-tailed students enroll. The following year, enrollment doubled. In the current 2018-19 school year, McCrery’s class has nearly 260 students and the number continues to grow as the curriculum advances.
“The class has become very popular at the high school,” said McCrery, co-chair of Harding’s social studies department. “I believe this is an indicator that our students are both genuinely interested in the material and longing for positive vibes about their community.”
McCrery said feedback, not only from the students, but their families and the community, has been tremendous.
The class focuses on a wide range of topics, including Geography and Establishment, Schools, Railroads, Industry, Business, Politics and Personalities, Entertainment, and Folklore and Legends. Each unit puts great emphasis on not only the important aspects of each in terms of the past, but also how and why Marion has changed and what Marion has to offer today. Students use archived editions of The Marion Star to supplement the class curriculum, along with historic volumes, antique city directories, and maps.
Each semester, McCrery, himself a 1994 graduate of Harding, has been able to take students out into the community for field trips and bring a number of guest speakers into the class. The class has visited the Harding Home, Harding Memorial, Marion Cemetery, the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial, the Huber Machinery Museum, Heritage Hall, the Marion Palace Theatre, and Marion Union Station.
“All of the sites have been just incredible to work with,” McCrery said. “Everyone involved seems to be excited that their passions for local history are not only being passed on to young people, but shared by those same young people.”
As the class digs into and discovers Marion history, McCrery says that he has found most students are often surprised at Marion’s interesting past, but are equally as in awe at the current opportunities.
A 20-year veteran teacher and lifelong Marion resident, McCrery shares how many of his students suffer from what the rest of the community seems to suffer from – a lack of self-esteem about Marion.
“The rewarding part of my job comes when students light up at the thought of a vibrant and ‘alive’ Marion, Ohio,” says McCrery. “So many of them have been ‘beat down’ by the negativity surrounding our community that it gives me great joy to show them something they can be genuinely proud of.”
NEW THIRD GRADE CURRICULUM
Area third graders will soon be able to learn more Marion history as well. A series of lesson plans called “I am MarionMade!” was recently developed by Hayes Elementary teacher Shelley Pickens and will be distributed later this year to all schools in Marion County.
“Our goal of this series of lesson plans is to help the Marion County third grade teachers teach the Ohio Learning Standard for Social Studies theme, ‘Communities: Past and Present, Near and Far,’ while building community pride in our future leaders and citizens,” she said. “It is a resource for all area third grade teachers.”
Pickens’ plan includes eight lessons covering a timeline of Marion history, including citizenship, community involvement, and current products and services produced in Marion County. Instructions for a mini-research project on careers in Marion are also part of the curriculum.
Pickens is a lifelong resident of Marion and a classroom teacher in the Marion City Schools with 22 years of experience teaching elementary students.
“These lessons are designed to be a springboard for other third grade teachers to be creative and add their ideas to lessons which meet Ohio’s social studies standards,” Pickens said.
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