Hands-on history

Published 11:00 pm Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Kari Barley, Pioneer Museum of Alabama assistant director, demonstrated the use of the hand dipper to students from Regina Catrett’s class at Pike County High School. The students participated in a free hands-on history program that was won by Catrett in a give-away at the “Welcome Back Scholars” reception hosted by the museum for all Pike County educators at the beginning of the school year. (Submitted Photo)

Teacher’s prize proves ‘win-win’ for museum

The old adage, “What goes around comes around,” proved to be true when Regina Catrett’s special needs students at Pike County High School visited the Pioneer Museum of Alabama on Friday.

Catrett was the winner in the museum’s “Welcome Back Scholars” giveaway at the beginning of the school year.

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“The museum hosted a reception for all educators in Pike County as a way of thanking them for all they do for the children and for the community,” said Rachael Greve, museum director.

“The names of all those who registered were entered in a drawing and the winner received a free hands-on history visit to the Pioneer Museum of Alabama and lunch on the grounds for his or her class.”

Catrett was the winner and chose spring as the time to bring her students to the museum.

“Mrs. Catrett brought 17 students, several teachers and support staff. Dr. Mark Head, from special education office, also participated,” Greve said. “The students were interested in everything we had planned for them. They churned butter, ‘toted’ water and ate cornpones cooked on a woodstove. They were a most appreciative group.

“They were very insightful. They surprised me at how quickly they answered the questions we posed to them and how witty they were. They really seemed to understand the big picture.”

Greve said the visit by the special needs students was a learning experience for her and the museum staff as well.

“This visit from students with different disabilities was a litmus test on how we rank as far as sensibility,” Greve said. “It gave us an opportunity to reinvent our hands-on programs for children with learning or physical disabilities.

“It got us working on curricula much broader in approach and a new set of programs that will be stepping stones for future special needs tours, including tours for those who are audio or visually impaired.”

Greve said the visit also served as a catalyst to develop curricula for home school programs that include especially unique students.

“The special education staff at Pike County High School is made up of angels who have hearts of gold,” Greve said.

“That was evident in their relationships with their students. Special education teachers are special because they go, perhaps, a little farther and their hearts seem a tiny bit bigger.”