N.C. schools get new black history teaching tools

N.C. schools get  new black history  teaching tools
November 01
00:00 2012

Students have a new way to learn about the state’s rich African American culture.

AT&T North Carolina and the N.C. Department of Public Instruction unveiled the 2013 Heritage Calendar last week in Raleigh. Each month, an individual who has played a key role in North Carolina black history is highlighted. The calendar is available online and will be provided to schools throughout the state. Lesson plans about each honoree will be made available to educators in the hope that they will use them to teach their students more about these iconic figures, who were selected by an AT&T panel based on submitted nominations. Not all of those featured are black. Whites who have contributed to black history being made – like former UNC Basketball Coach Dean Smith and former Governor Jim Hunt – also appear.

A team of 24 teachers from across the state prepared lessons for the project. Lee Anne Stiffler, who retired as a science teacher at Meadowlark Elementary after an education career that spanned nearly 40 years, was on the team.

“I hope that (students) get a chance to use this to meet North Carolinians they probably never have heard of before,” Stiffler said of the calendar. 

Stiffler was among a group of four teachers assigned to develop lesson plans centered around Hunt, who appointed many African Americans to prominent positions as governor, and Clarence “Big House” Gaines, the late legendary Winston-Salem State University basketball coach. Stiffler said she had long admired both men.

The educators were allowed to get creative with their lesson plans. For example, for Gaines, Stiffler used basketball as the basis for physics and to create a language arts lesson centered around leadership.

In a press release, State Superintendent Dr. June Atkinson praised Stiffler and the other educators who crafted the lesson plans.

“Each teacher involved in crafting these plans has provided important leadership to their colleagues,” she said. 

Gaines is not the only calendar icon with Triad ties.

Greensboro residents Henry and Shirley Frye are featured. He became the first African American to serve in the state General Assembly in the 20th Century and the first black justice and chief justice of the N.C. Supreme Court; she is an esteemed educator who has devoted countless volunteer hours to worthy causes. Fittingly, the Greensboro Four are featured for February, the month in 1960 that they made history with a sit-in at a Greensboro lunch counter.

Less obvious figures are included as well, like former Wendell-Wake NAACP Chapter President  Mary Perry, who is the longest-serving NAACP president in the state. Coach Smith is highlighted for recruiting UNC’s first black athlete in 1966 and helping to integrate the Chapel Hill restaurant, The Pines.  Smith also helped Howard Lee, a black UNC graduate student and future Chapel Hill mayor, move into an all-white neighborhood in 1965.

“The inaugural honorees  are all incredible role models and have made a lasting difference in their relative fields and communities, excelling in areas such as education, public service, civil rights, sports, arts and law enforcement,” said Cynthia Marshall, president of AT&T North Carolina, in a press release. “It is our hope that this calendar will serve as a tribute to their tremendous integrity, commitment and dedication to enhancing the lives of African-Americans throughout North Carolina’s rich history.” 

The other North Carolinians featured are: former Wake County Sherriff John Baker Jr.; former Raleigh Mayor Tom Bradshaw; former U.S. Rep.  Eva Clayton; pre-school education advocate Dorothy Scoggins; Sandhills Family Heritage Association founder Ammie McRea Jenkins; and education advocate Olinzie Johnson.


To learn more about the AT&T 2013 Heritage Calendar, visit  HYPERLINK “”

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Todd Luck

Todd Luck

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