Clay County history becomes part of school curriculum

Kenneth Detwyler Jr.
Posted 5/30/18

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – The 1894-era jail along Idlewild Avenue housed everyone from death row inmates to mental health patients to out-of-town bank robbers.

In the present, steps away from that …

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Clay County history becomes part of school curriculum

Posted

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – The 1894-era jail along Idlewild Avenue housed everyone from death row inmates to mental health patients to out-of-town bank robbers.

In the present, steps away from that jail, the Clay County School Board announced that county history will be incorporated into eighth grade U.S. History courses in its schools.

The program which is currently being taught in schools, reintroduces students to their community in a way that most have not experienced, as they answer the question, “What had the greatest impact on Clay County’s development?”

“It’s not only fun and its rigoris,” said Terry Connor, chief of secondary education for the school district. “These students have to jump into historical documents and get down to the nitty gritty.”

The new curriculum is a joint venture between the Clay County School Board and Clerk of Court office, under whose umbrella the County Archives fall. The Clerk’s office is in charge of maintaining the county archives which are an instrumental resource in this new curriculum.

Officials announced the new initiative May 26 at the Clay County historical triangle in front of the historic courthouse. School Board and Clerk of Courts officials were treated to a tour of the historical sites and received a hands-on look at what students will be learning about in the new curricula.

“I want our students in Clay County to know the rich history of this county, so when they go to Hibernia or Rideout, or anywhere in Clay County, they know the history,” said Carol Studdard, School Board chairman. “This is just my proudest moment, I’m thrilled to death.”

According to Studdard, she received the initial inspiration for this new initiative after reading the book “Margaret’s Story: The Third Novel in the Florida Trilogy” by Eugenia Price. The book chronicles the family of Margaret Seton and Lewis Fleming, who owned Hibernia Plantation. Studdard went to Hiberna and visited the graves of Fleming and others mentioned in the book. Afterwards, she took the idea of teaching county history in the schools to her constituents and passed the baton to curriculum specialists who collaborated with teachers and the Clerk’s office to begin working on what this would look like in the classroom. The end result was the inaugural “Celebrate Clay History Week.”

Some future plans for the program include appearances by archives specialists and history experts as guest speakers in Clay County Schools, development of additional Clay History curriculum for year-round use, field trips to historical sites and promotion of the Clay County Historical Archives new website as a resource for students of all grade levels.

“This is going to develop a lot of civic pride,” said Kelly Watt, a school district social studies specialist. “These kids are going to know their roots, they are going to see that history isn’t something that happens elsewhere. Clay County has its own story to tell.”

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