Story and Photos by Stefanie Jackson – Occohannock Elementary School’s self-contained special needs class, taught by Renee Beall with the help of instructional assistant Jamie Gentry and behavioral support aide Claudia West, celebrated Black History Month by learning about famous African Americans and their inventions, innovations, and accomplishments.
The class of students in kindergarten through third grade learned through a book, a YouTube video, and art and music; they especially enjoyed listening to Bob Marley.
The students used materials such as colored pencils, paint, and construction paper to make colorful creations representing African American individuals and their work, including Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad, Gladys West and the global positioning system or GPS technology, Garrett Morgan and the traffic light, and Alexander Miles and the automatic elevator door.
Other inventions the kids studied included the fire extinguisher, the comb, the pencil sharpener, and the street mailbox.
Beall said it can be challenging to find ways to engage her students in their lessons, but the fun and success the students had learning about Black history show that art remains relevant in the education of children.
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