History and Heroes: DCHS’ new education offering

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Special to The Dorchester Banner/DCHS
Director Mayra Maldonado of New Beginnings, poses with her group of third and fifth graders at their recent visit to the Heritage Museums and Gardens of Dorchester.

CAMBRIDGE — For Ann Phillips, the director of the Dorchester County Historical Society (DCHS), history education is a top priority being an important piece of the organization’s mission since its inception more than 60 years ago. Getting that education to children, has proven to be a big challenge.

With changes in the education system — modern technology, curriculum changes, budgetary constraints, etc. — it seems that local history has taken a big hit in the classroom. Last year, very few field trips were brought to the Heritage Museums and Gardens of Dorchester.  The children’s learning series History Comes Alive, also noted a decline in attendance. So much so, that series is taking a break.

With 2015, a new education offering is being undertaken by DCHS. To get to children that are “historically underserved” as Ms. Phillips likes to put it, DCHS has launched a program that can take history to the audience while also encouraging attendance to the campus.

History and Heroes made its debut last week, when a group of third and fifth graders from the New Beginnings, Youth and Family Services, attended the Heritage Museums for the first in a four part program. While Dorchester history will be central to these efforts, much discussion with the students focuses on their personal histories and their abilities to shape history.

“Heroes” will be introduced at the next meeting and will instruct about these laudable individuals who have called Dorchester their home. Ultimately, defining the qualities that make a hero and encouraging the development of those characteristics in these young citizens is the path of this study.

If you are an educator or children’s group leader and are interested in bringing a group of students to the campus or having a program brought to the classroom, you are urged to call and schedule. At this time there is no cost to these groups, as funding has been donated for 2015 and will be spent down on a first-come, first-serve basis. Programs can be adapted for most areas of regional historical instruction and the use of “hands-on” elements engages everyone.

The Heritage Museums and Gardens of Dorchester is operated by the Dorchester County Historical Society and located at 1003 Greenway Drive in Cambridge. The campus includes three historic buildings, a waterfront walkway, two museums, gardens and more.

To contact for more information, call 410-228-7953 or e-mail dchs@verizon.net.

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