Watson Chronicle


Student Opportunities and Student News

Interdisciplinary Project Takes Secondary Students to Local Cemeteries

Monday, October 06, 2014

Wilmington Local Cemeteries

WCE secondary faculty Angie Reid Griffin, Dennis Kubasko, Denise Ousley-Exum, Robert Smith and Katie Snyder want future high school teachers to be able to work with teachers in other content areas and to use local community resources to bring interest and relevance to student learning. Each semester, the faculty members collaborate on an Interdisciplinary Project that takes students out of the classroom and into the community.

Forty students enrolled in undergraduate and graduate secondary education programs at WCE joined their professors for a tour of Oakdale and Pine Forest cemeteries in Wilmington in September.

“In real life, problems are rarely solved using just math, science or social studies concepts,” Smith said. “To prepare students for life beyond school, our pre-service teachers will need to help future students acquire the knowledge and skills to work across disciplines as well as within them.”

Faculty members say the interdisciplinary project is effective in getting students to broaden their thinking, make connections to the local community and understand the importance of collaborative teaching and learning.

Past projects have included a study of the Cape Fear River and a tour of the NC Battleship.

The cemetery locations were selected because they provide rich insight into the history of Wilmington, Smith said.

“Cemeteries exist in every community, but they are often an unexplored resource. Here in Wilmington, Oakdale and Pine Forest are located right next to each other, yet one is a traditional burial ground for whites, while the other has a deep African-American heritage,” he said.

During the fall semester, students will use the experience to collaborate on lesson plans that encompass social studies, literature, science and math.

“Some students ask if the lesson plans they’re developing need to include a field trip,” Ousley-Exum said. “We tell them no. It’s not about the location. It’s about learning to think differently about their approach to teaching. The questions that are raised and the dialogue that ensues when students get out into the community and collaborate on a project is what stays with them and makes an impact.” 

Associate professor Chris Fonvielle of UNCW’s History Department and superintendent Eric Kozen led the tour of Oakdale cemetery. James Lofton, superintendent of Pine Forest along with local historian Beverly Tetterton led the tour of Pine Forest.

The North Carolina General Assembly chartered Oakdale Cemetery on Dec. 27, 1852. Historical information can be found at www.oakdalecemetery.org/history.asp

Pine Forest Cemetery officially opened in 1871, and its’ rich cultural history was featured in an article in The Wilmington Journal in 2012. The article can be viewed athttp://wilmingtonjournal.com/pine-forest-cemetery-a-hidden-gem/