The Preservation Foundation

History teachers get local lessons to take to class
Posted Date 06/22/2009

To read the Sun-Sentinel article of June 22, 2009, please click here or see below.

History teachers get local lessons to take to class
By Lois Solomon | South Florida Sun-Sentinel

4:35 AM EDT, June 22, 2009

DELRAY BEACH - Palm Beach County history is filled with intriguing and quirky stories that are probably unknown to most residents, a group of public school teachers learned last week.

As part of the first Palm Beach County History Institute, 14 teachers from the Palm Beach County School District toured the Loxahatchee River; the Morikami, Spady and Flagler museums; the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse; Worth Avenue; the county's Historical Society and the Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach.

They learned about the Second Seminole War, the Japanese pioneers of the early 1900s, Addison Mizner's Mediterranean Revival architecture, the area's delicate ecosystem and the county's role in World War II.

"I teach a lot of these things, but there is so much I didn't know," said Annette Reddy, a science teacher at Okeeheelee Middle School in Greenacres. "This will add to what I already knew."

Although teachers are required to offer Florida history lessons in certain grades, staff of the county's Historical Society realized there are few opportunities for teachers to learn the history of their own backyard, said Tony Marconi, the society's education coordinator.

Marconi and Janice Owens, education director at the preservation foundation, decided to brainstorm a week of seminars at historic locations.

The school district agreed to offer 30 in-service credits toward the teachers' recertification, required every five years, Marconi said. Participating teachers will have to show lesson plans and student work to the historical society next year to obtain their recertification.

Teachers said they appreciated the new information for their lessons. John Bauer, a social studies teacher at Dreyfoos School of the Arts in West Palm Beach who has worked in the district for 30 years, said he plans to bring out his guitar next year and teach his students local towns' unique jingles that were written in the 1920s to attract people and money during Florida's land boom.

Becky Lane, a kindergarten teacher at Coral Sunset Elementary west of Boca Raton, said she especially enjoyed a tour of the Jupiter Lighthouse and Mizner's apartment in Palm Beach, now in private hands on Via Mizner off Worth Avenue. The group also visited the adjacent grave of Mizner's pet spider monkey, Johnnie Brown.

"This is my passion," Lane said. "I love Florida history."