Darlington School: Professional Development Spotlight: A Journey Like None Other, Part 1 
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Professional Development Spotlight: A Journey Like None Other, Part 1

Steve McConnell | August 3, 2017 | 387 views

Thanks to the Thatcher Faculty Professional Development Grant, I had the unique opportunity this summer to head out west and visit Native American sites in San Diego and Arizona. I had no idea just how much history I was about to discover (or maybe uncover). These visits allowed me the chance to visit and speak with Native Americans and find out history from their perspective. This is Part 1 of a several part travelogue of my experiences and will serve as an introduction as to why I took the trip.

I absolutely loved westerns growing up and I still do! The first movie poster my third-graders see each year is the one from "Silverado." One of my favorite TV shows growing up was (and still is thanks to MeTV) "The Wild, Wild West." No one was better at defeating the bad guys than James West and Artemus Gordon. I am grateful that Clint Eastwood restored the western to movie lore when he made "Unforgiven", and one of my favorite books ever is Larry McMurtry's "Lonesome Dove." Texas Rangers Augustus McCrae and Woodrow F. Call became heroes to me.

The tag line on the top of my "Silverado" poster is, "Get ready for the ride of your life." Now, if you know me at all you know that I have been known to make a BOLD statement or two. Get ready for the next in the line of BOLD statements: this adventure out West turned into a completely unexpected and extraordinary ride of a lifetime!  

I have had the chance to teach Social Studies and History to third- and/or fifth-graders over the last 15 years. Whether it was that opportunity, or just growing up and realizing that not every thing in the movies, TV and books is real, I hoped that I had developed a new understanding about the history of the Native American people. 

I took this journey out west because a big part of my new curriculum is introducing my classes to the Native Americans of the United States. We will be discussing their culture, lifestyles, education and contributions and I wanted to be able to share their story to my students the best way I knew how. Actually visiting their reservations, studying how their ancestors lived, how they make a living, what is important to them, and hearing their perspective on history and bringing that back in the form of pictures, videos and observations was the best way I knew to do this. 

I wasn't prepared for what I discovered and the Native American people I met during this two week journey were amazing.

Over the next several parts of this travelogue, I will attempt to share with you what I found along the way through pictures and videos; try and describe the way of life of the folks I met; and maybe, just maybe, rewrite a bit of history for you along the way.

Click here to read Part 2 of Steve McConnell's blog series about his professional development journey this summer.