“It’s a vindication of what I try to teach, how I try to teach the history of the South in conjunction with ancient world history,” said Rodney Pierce, a third-year teacher at the school.
Pierce, a sixth-grade social studies teacher, was chosen to attend the Understanding the American South Teachers Summit.
This fellowship will be held on the campus of UNC-Chapel Hill on August 13-15.
There were more 70 applications received from across the state from K-12 educators who teach about the American South in their curriculum.
Twenty fellows were chosen to attend.
The fellowship is offered by The Center for the Study of the American South, Morehead Planetarium & Science Center, and the UNC School of Education.
Participants will get the opportunity to hear presentations from top Carolina scholars who specialize in Southern history. They will receive a stipend as well as continuing education credits.
Pierce uses the parallels he finds on the local level to help better explain world history. “We have the Halifax Resolves, which was a precursor to the Declaration of Independence. I juxtapose that to the Magna Carta and the 12 Tables of Ancient Rome or Hammurabi’s Code. The Magna Carta was basically barons telling the king you can’t keep doing these things with no accountability. It levels the ground between us and what the Resolves were, that we were tired of England being on our neck.”
He relates the Nat Turner insurrection to Spartacus in Rome. “We live in arguably in the most historic area in the state.”
Pierce said he noted in his application he didn’t see enough of Halifax County on the fellowship’s website, particularly African-American history. “I’m just elated and excited to have this tremendous opportunity.”
One of the people Pierce looks forward to hearing is William Ferris, a UNC professor who serves as associate director of the Center for the Study of the American South. “I’m hoping to learn more to use personally and professionally and definitely have some things I can share with students and give them a bit more pride in where they come or where they live.”
Said Pierce, a product of the Halifax County school system, “Now that I’m older and know about the history, I’m prouder of where I live and where I’m from. That came because I learned. Knowledge is power.”
Charlene Nicholson, who has been Pierce’s instructional coach for the past couple of years, was the one who emailed him about the opportunity. “I want to thank Charlene Nicholson. When I was in sixth grade at Davie she was my social studies and English teacher.”
Pierce is founder of the Roanoke Valley Black Male Education Alliance and serves on the Public Relations committee for Halifax County Schools.