The U.S. Department of Education awarded a three-year $999,957 Teaching American History grant to a partnership involving four East Alabama school systems and the Persistent Issues in History Network. The “Plowing Freedom’s Ground” project will provide teachers in Lee County, Alexander City, Phenix City, and Tallapoosa County schools with enhanced historical content knowledge, inquiry-based teaching strategies, and interactive Web-based tools designed to improve student achievement in U.S. history. Dr. John Saye, alumni professor in the Auburn University College of Education's Department of Curriculum and Teaching and co-director of the PIH Network, submitted the grant proposal on behalf of Lee County, the lead school district, and will serve as project director. Karen Winn and Darren Douthitt of Lee County will serve as project co-directors and join Janet Gilliland (Alexander City), Linda Davis (Tallapoosa), and Lisa Coleman (Phenix City) on the project steering committee.
The “Plowing Freedom’s Ground” project will focus on pivotal events in five historical periods that illustrate the challenges of ensuring fairness and justice for all Americans: Revolution and the New Nation, Expansion and Reform, Civil War and Reconstruction, the Development of Modern America and Contemporary America. Teacher professional development for the project will be designed and implemented by the Persistent Issues in History (PIH) Network, directed by Saye of Auburn University and Dr. Tom Brush of Indiana University. PIH staff will be joined in this effort by Auburn University historians with expertise in the periods of study and by mentor teachers from the Auburn City School system.