The Glynn County School Board is planning to axe the Archaeology cooperative program at Fort Frederica/Oglethorpe Point Middle School. This would be a great loss, as this program is THE best in the U.S. for teaching archaeology to elementary school students and teachers.—If you benefited from this program, PLEASE let the school board know this very soon.
This article on the situation appeared in today’s edition of The Brunswick News:
Schools’ archaeology education may be axed
By ERIKA CAPEK
The Brunswick News
In her 16 years with the Glynn County archaeology education program, Ellen Provenzano has seen her share of success stories.
One that really sticks out in her mind is about a fourth-grade boy who was in danger of being held back a grade in school. After his archaeological experience through the program, however, Provenzano said he wrote an impressive 14-page report about everything he learned.
Not only did it help him get excited about learning and reading, but it also helped him fit into the classroom.
“He did it on his own and he was so excited about archaeology,” Provenzano said. “It was just quite amazing, one of those real rewarding experiences.”
Despite this and other successes, the archaeology education program is not immune to a weak economy and a strapped school budget.
In February, school administrators compiled a list of potential budget cuts for fiscal 2011, which begins July 1. The archaeology program is among programs on the chopping block.
Cutting the program that is a partnership between the Glynn County School System and the National Park Service at Fort Frederica, on St. Simons Island, would save the school system an estimated $86,000.
Eliminating the program, said Jon Burpee, chief of interpretation at Fort Frederica, would take the wind out of the sails of the education program offered at the site.
“For us, our biggest concern is that it would disconnect the school children in Glynn County from the national park that is in their backyard,” Burpee said.
Provenzano, the Glynn County schools archaeology education coordinator, has been working with all fourth-grade pupils since the program was added to the school system’s curriculum in 1994.
The program teaches all aspects of historical archaeology, from theory to excavation, to artifact analysis and conservation, and the interpretation of the past.
Students complete background lessons in the classroom, participate in a simulated archaeological dig at Fort Frederica and then spend a full day in the archaeology laboratory at nearby Oglethorpe Point Elementary School to analyze artifacts they uncovered.
Provenzano said students are able to go through the entire scientific method by using a hands-on and multidisciplinary approach, while also achieving state performance standards.
“The use of the scientific method throughout their field and lab work allows the students the opportunity to be problem solvers and critical thinkers,” she said. “It’s just really rewarding, as a teacher, to be able to see kids so engaged in their learning.”
Because of the uniqueness of the program, Dig Magazine, a national monthly publication for young people about archaeological discoveries, wants to include the Glynn County archaeology education program in its March 2011 issue, Provenzano said.
While the Glynn County Board of Education has not made any decisions on potential cost-cutting steps, Provenzano is hoping that the archaeology program isn’t itself buried before the magazine is published.