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Spangler Creates Rockbridge County Black History Lesson Plans
By: Maggie McBrayer '25
Student: Natalie Spangler
Year: Class of 2023
Major: English and Minor in Education Policy and Math
Natalie spent the summer of 2021 dedicated to improving the education on Black history in the Rockbridge area. She compiled a set of lesson plans for the K-12 school system about the Walker family's impact in the region. The lesson plans Natalie created in collaboration with the Rockbridge County and Lexington City school systems, Rockbridge Historical Society, and the Office of Community-Based Learning were distributed to the local schools in hopes of teaching about some of the influential members of the Black Community that shaped the history of Lexington.
Natalie decided to embark on this project to "emphasize all of the aspects of Lexington's history and to tell the whole story of Lexington." Harry and Eliza Walker were a prominent Black family who lived during the 20th century in Lexington. Harry co-owned Walker and Wood Brothers Meat Market, which was a large supplier of meat for Lexington and Rockbridge County, and the Blandome House, his private residence that he and his wife occasionally opened for Black travelers. Eliza devoted her time to advocating for women's suffrage.
Natalie believes that to have pride in one's community, it is necessary to take time and learn about the defining components that help to give a sense of place. Natalie hopes that these lesson plans will contribute to a more inclusive curriculum; one that highlights the achievements of its diverse citizens. She believes that it is necessary to showcase all the positive contributions African Americans have made to Lexington, as well as on a national level.
The Office of Community-Based Learning was able to support Natalie on a project she was passionate about and facilitate the relationship with the local school system. Natalie states, "Once I began working here, I loved it. I loved to see the university, county, and city work together for a common goal." This opportunity confirmed Natalie's interest in pursuing a career in Education policy and teaching. She loved the lesson and curriculum planning. She hopes to make a positive change to the education gaps in the United States. Natalie looks forward to learning about the classroom impact these lesson plans will have.
We invite you to explore the Teaching About Black Residents' Contributions to Lexington's History website!