CLEVELAND - Teaching Cleveland to Clevelanders may seem like an unnecessary task, but a Beachwood teacher hopes it pays dividend for Cleveland for years to come.
Greg Deegan teaches social studies at Beachwood High School. In 2001, he began teaching a class on Cleveland’s rich history, as well as its challenges. The idea began from his frequent commutes from his home in Lyndhurst to Saint Ignatius High School on Cleveland's west side.
“I sort of became curious about Cleveland by going back and forth from the suburbs to the city,” said Deegan. “I’d stare out of the RTA buses wondering about a million things as I was doing that. So I sort of fell in love (with Cleveland) in high school and I want to try to create that at the high school level for my kids.”
Deegan hopes the students’ experience will create love for their hometown and bring them back with their talents after college.
“This place has some amazing assets and I want these students, who are high school kids, maybe they go off to college, I want them to come back and think that there some great people that live in the city and there are some great opportunities here and let me see what I can do here,” he said.
This year’s students were given various aspects of life in Cleveland to research and made videos about their findings. “Business and the Cleveland Economy”, "Higher Education Opportunities,” “Cleveland’s In: Living and Settling in Cleveland” and “Destination Cleveland” were shown at the Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University Monday afternoon.
Shira Barron said her student project took her to places she hadn’t experienced before.
“I know there’s the Beachwood bubble and I’ve grown up here my whole life and it was great to see other suburbs and see different people and why they like living where they live,” she said.
The class has spread seeds in another area, teaching teachers how to teach Cleveland.
“Teaching Cleveland” is a local non-profit organization whose mission, according to its website, is to teach Cleveland history, public policy and inspire student civic engagement throughout Northeast Ohio.
Fifteen local teachers are currently involved in year-long professional development workshops to further teach Cleveland to students.
Arin Miller-Tait, Director of Civic Engagement Initiatives for Teaching Cleveland and also an instructor at Gilmour Academy, agreed keeping students involved in Cleveland is important although it might seem odd to teach us about ourselves.
“A lot of times as kids, we’re confined to our little areas, our little suburbs and we don’t see the whole city, we don’t see the big picture. We are hoping to provide some opportunities for kids to learn about everything the city has to offer, the good and the bad and what they can do to make a difference,” said Miller-Tait.
For more information, visit: www.TeachingCleveland.org
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