Sixteen dedicated volunteers of the Pioneer School Experience at the Harbor History Museum will be honored for their contributions to educational and historical activities by the Elizabeth Forey Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, a national organization.
An official event and ceremony will be held at 10 a.m. June 18 at the Harbor History Museum, 4121 Harborview Drive, Gig Harbor, according to a press release from the Daughters of the American Revolution.
"The volunteers are part of the award-winning Pioneer School Experience which allows school groups to step back in time, learn local history and relive schoolhouse life in 1901," the press release said. "Over 1,500 students participate in the program every year."
Students are encouraged to dress in period costume and are provided with pioneer identities to support their learning experience. They bring lunches typical of the time period which often include cornbread, a boiled egg and water in a mason jar. The volunteers collectively have over 170 years of teaching experience, some are published authors of children's books and other subjects, and have bachelors or masters degrees. Many are well traveled, and their talents are being used for the benefit of the community and its children, the press release said.
The program is held in the fully-restored 1893 one-room schoolhouse that was moved to the museum site. The program is designed specifically for fourth-graders and fulfills several requirements of fourth grade Washington State Education standards, the press release said The first classes were held in November 2010.
Leann O'Neill, who taught for 25 years in Gig Harbor schools, developed the curriculum and her alter ego is Miss Bennett, headmistress of Midway School. The programs have continued in their popularity for the past eight years. Muriel Parrish, past Elizabeth Forey regent, said O'Neill, who often speaks to community groups, presented a program last year to the Daughters of the American Revolution group.
"O'Neill took members back to 1901 and led them in their school studies," the press release said. "The members were so delighted with the program they determined that these volunteers were worthy of the (Daughters of the American Revolution) Community Service Award which recognizes volunteers who have contributed in an outstanding manner to educational and historical activities. The unique hands-on immersion and inclusive in-character learning model is a one of a kind program in Washington state."
To learn more about the Pioneer School Experience program visit harborhistorymuseum.org.