The University of Central Florida’s new Public History Center is accustomed to 4th graders arriving to learn about Florida history, but a recent visiting field trip at the center consisted of College of Education students learning about community resources that are available to them as teachers.
Lee-Ann Spalding, an instructor in the School of Teaching, Learning and Leadership, took several of her students to the Sanford center for the first time, where they explored an original 1902 classroom, a pioneer room with a ¾-size log cabin, Native American “village” and other resources. UCF this past summer leased Seminole County Public Schools’ former school building and Student Museum for the History Department to hold classes, workshops and other community history projects.
Ashley Wilt, project coordinator at the center, lead the tour at the history center, and Spalding said she now plans to regularly include a visit to the facility as part of her classroom assignments.
“I love how completely hands-on ‘Grandma’s attic’ was, and how it really painted a picture of what living was like in the early 1900s in Florida,” said student Jessica Rich. “Every student could find something to interest them in this room…churning butter to be tasted later, grinding wheat, grinding coffee beans, doing laundry with a washboard and ringer, playing with authentic wooden toys and making yarn dolls.”
Spalding said the students’ favorite exhibit may have been the classroom with wooden desks, blackboards and photo of President Theodore Roosevelt.
“It was so cool to be able to see and hear about how a classroom was structured and ran in 1902,” said Denise Gourley. “It was interesting to hear that the classroom typically ranged from 1st to 12th grade in one room – and covered all subjects.”
Spalding said she expects the students to use their experiences from the Public History Center when they spend the next two semesters as interns.
As student Kimberly Merrow said: “There was a quote I noticed around the whole museum that I really loved. It said, ‘Tell me and I forget, Show me and I remember, Involve me and I understand.’ It really put my role as a teacher into perspective for me. I definitely want that quote displayed in my classroom.”