Our 7th-grade Humanities classes had the privilege this past week of hearing from retired Texas educators who have spent a lifetime cultivating curiosity and collecting stories.
When we think about history it’s easy to imagine it as something that affects others. Something that happens to those who have passed away, or perhaps to countries and people groups that we read about in our textbooks. For most of us, thinking about history and our part in that narrative is not something that feels pressing in our day to day errands and hurries to get our homework finished.
For our 7th-grade Humanities classes this past week, however, we were able to see legacy, learning, and history collide. Long-time Texas educators and passionate historians, Virginia and Nolan Alders, joined Mrs. Alders’s and Mrs. Fitzgerald’s classes for a time of remembering Texas history. Mr. Nolan Alders, a 5th generation Texan and his wife of 66 years, Mrs. Virginia Alders, are from the historic city of Nacogdoches, Texas where they reside on a ranch riddled with arrowheads and stories.
With a combined 60+ years of experience in teaching, they challenged students to stay curious and ask questions. They encouraged our 7th graders to “ask the second question” when they heard someone in their family talking about legacy and where they were from. They also gave an insider secret telling students to pick up the free books and pamphlets about Texas at travel stops and stations! Students passed around arrowheads and had the opportunity to read a published work written by Mrs. Virginia Alders that captured the perspective of a young Native American girl.
As our Humanities classes seek to educate students, painting a full vibrant picture of literature and history in their context, it was such a gift to hear Mr. and Mrs. Alders share about their love for Texas and their knowledge of this great state. Mr. Alders shared about the Native American man who he knew as a boy and Mrs. Alders talked about her families move across the Sabine River from Louisiana into Texas. These stories are like that of many Texans who can trace their family history back to our state’s adventurous beginnings, but hearing about it first hand is such a gift to our young students as they study the lakes and rivers, the wars and great works of our nation, and specifically of our state.
We’re thankful for the opportunity to expose our students to those who remember a different time, a different Texas. What a reminder across generations that history is indeed being made.