August 08, 2022
Monmouth County Historical Association enters the classroom
By Lori Draz
This school year, students in New Jersey will benefit from a history lesson, courtesy of the Monmouth County Historical Association (MCHA).
Dr. Wendy Morales, Deputy Superintendent of the Monmouth-Ocean Educational Services Commission, explained, “In accordance with the New Jersey Department of Education’s 2020 Student Learning Standards and related legislation such as the Amistad (2002), teachers in grades three to five must now cover the colonial era, including the role of slavery. For example, by the end of grade five, students will be able to compare the practice of slavery and indentured servitude in colonial labor systems.
This is where MCHA’s “Beneath the Floorboards: Whispers of the Enslaved at Marlpit Hall” will play a key role. A portion of the funding for this impactful exhibition was used for educational purposes. When the pandemic made class trips nearly impossible, a virtual experience was created to make information from the exhibit widely available to students. There are two versions of the digital resource; one is suitable for upper elementary level, while the other is for intermediate/secondary level.
The resource will be used as a supplement to what public school teachers are mandated to teach.
Morales continued, “The questions and activities included in the Marlpit Hall resource are standards-aligned and cross-cutting. This means that students will not only learn historical facts, but will be challenged to think like historians by analyzing primary sources (written records, art and music of the time) and making connections between historical eras.
Dana Howell, Director of Education at MCHA, added, “Beneath the Planks exhibit is special because of the way these local stories are told. Each enslaved individual is brought to life through primary source documentation and solid historical research. Their stories are presented without any form of politicization, but rather from a factual and humanized point of view. Students can come into contact with real slaves who lived locally and find out what their life was like.
The resource has received overwhelmingly positive response from other groups such as the New Jersey Education Association, New Jersey School Boards Association, and New Jersey Center for Civic Education. MCHA will present to the National Council for Social Studies in December on productive collaboration between educators and historical societies, highlighting the website as such.
And this is not the only project. MCHA’s new Executive Director, Shannon Eadon, has made education a top priority for MCHA. They are currently using their well-archived resources to develop additional programs for educators and students. To learn more about these programs and MCHA’s many programs and museums, visit MonmouthHistory.org.