Bridging School and Community - Washington, DC

Workshop Summary 

The workshop mission, envisioned by the African American Heritage Preservation Foundation, Inc. is to provide educators, architects, designers, preservationists and urban planners an opportunity to learn how to use design to explore the historic fabric of Washington, DC as a resource for enriching K-12 curricula.

Activities during this four-day session included historic walking tours, discussions on relevant issues of neighborhood preservation and on the development of strategies in the use of available neighborhood resources including landmarks, historic maps and photographs. The Foundation's workshop partners, the National Design Museum, the National Park Service, the American Planning Association, the National Building Museum, and Howard University's School of Architecture and Design conducted these activities.

Modeled after the Smithsonian's Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum program, "A City of Neighborhoods: Bridging School and Community" developed by Dorothy Dunn, Head of Education at the Museum, the workshop focused on the Historic Districts of Anacostia, LeDroit Park and Greater U Street/Shaw, as living laboratories to examine neighborhood historic preservation and its potential use in K-12 Education.

The program's intent was to develop awareness in public school teachers that would enable them to develop a knowledge and understanding of the importance of history and culture through the use of preservation, architecture and design. The workshop was a very ambitious undertaking and provided valuable information and instruction over the four-day period. The combination of walking tours, hands-on classroom working sessions and presentations was an appropriate vehicle to convey this information and theme. The concentration on these three very large historic districts with major importance to the African American community as workshop focus was important for a first time workshop of this type.

The workshop is intended for educators, architects, preservationists and community residents interested in bridging the K-12 classroom and the community. The workshop was well attended by these interest groups. Participants attending the sessions were appropriately predominately educators with the balance of the attendees comprised mostly of architects, preservationists and community residents.

AAHPF held its inaugural workshop " A City of Neighborhoods: Bridging School and Community", during the week of May 15-18, 2001. The workshop was conducted at three locations central to the initiative's focused neighborhoods - Howard University's School of Architecture and Design, the Thurgood Marshall Center for Service and Heritage and the Anacostia Public Library.

The keynote address given by Maybelle Taylor Bennett, Executive Director of the Howard University Community Association, was well received and set the stage for the subsequent days sessions. The other featured speakers Dorothy Dunn, E. Renée Ingram, President and Founder of AAHPF and Victor Dzidzienyo, Director of Howard University's School of Architecture and Design, provided an important overview and context for the sessions to follow.

The workshop facilitator, Maggie Martinez DeLuca, Curriculum Specialist from Bank Street College of Education, had a most important role in providing the required cohesiveness to ensure the success of the entire workshop. This was particularly important given the enormous amount of study material covered and the sheer size of the study area.

The primary workshop instructors, Monica Hampton, Program Coordinator for Schools from the National Design Museum; and Mike Hill, Outreach Programs Coordinator from the National Building Museum, provided the experience and awareness of the issues required to successfully conduct a workshop of this type. Two Howard University architecture students, Jalandré Anderson and Rory Neil, provided needed assistance and were integral participants in all group and individual activities. The instructors were able to utilize the vast array of information and resource materials assembled for the workshop, which proved invaluable for instructional use. The workshop participants were also provided several books and other resource materials that can be used for their own specific curriculum development.

The Workshop

The workshop is envisioned as a two-part initiative with Phase One designed to provide a historic overview of the Architecture and the African American cultural experience in the Anacostia, LeDroit Park and Greater U Street/Shaw Historic Districts. The workshop endeavors to expose public school teachers to the historic nature of these communities and to provide methods of using resources of historic communities to develop a structure for classroom curriculum development.

The workshop is organized into two all day morning and afternoon sessions each conducted in the featured historic district. The final workshop wrap-up session is organized into two parts with a facilitator to assess the work conducted in the three historic districts and presentations by teams of participants.

In Phase Two, to be conducted in the future, workshop participants are expected to build on the experiences of Phase One to mentor, teach and provide hands-on experience opportunities based on neighborhood preservation and community development. The program is to be designed for summer youth internships and after-school programs for middle and junior high school students, working with educators, professionals, graduate students, volunteers, community development corporations and community representatives.