From our Director of Media & Communications, Libba Beaucham:
The Cottrell Digital Studio is a pretty magical place. It brings history to life for thousands of students across Georgia through free Webcasts in which students meet and interact with historic figures live from their classrooms via video conferencing. George Washington, Benedict Arnold, Harriet Tubman, Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, and Juliette Gordon Low (who I portray) are just a few of the historic characters we offer. I've had the experience of being both behind the scenes and in front of the camera during our Webcasts, and both have offered me insight as to how important and truly amazing this program is.
I remember my first Webcast behind the camera, making sure everything was running smoothly. The students were meeting Benedict Arnold that day. Now, I'm sure that I studied Benedict Arnold when I was in school, but I couldn't have told you much about him. The students, however, had a very strong opinion of him based on what they had learned. They were convinced that Arnold was a traitor. But when Arnold explained his decision from his point of view, the students reconsidered their opinions. Arnold engaged them with questions to help them understand his position, they asked him questions as well, and did agree that a government should guarantee the rights and liberties of its citizens. So not only did the students learn the historical context, they actively listened to a contrary point of view and found common ground.
Since that Webcast in 2017, the program has significantly grown in popularity as teachers and media specialists have spread the word and scheduled multiple Webcasts throughout the year. Media Specialist Natalie Riley of Tadmore Elementary has had 10 Webcasts with us with various historic characters.
"Our kids have thoroughly enjoyed the experience of interacting with historical figures from the American Revolution. Through our interactions, they have gained a deeper knowledge of our founding fathers and the importance of our Constitutional rights. I am so grateful for the History Center and the learning opportunities they provide for our students."
Natalie Riley, Media Specialist at Tadmore Elementary School
Being in front of the camera has been a wonderful experience too. I have portrayed Juliette Gordon Low to over 600 students now, and it is such a joy to bring this fascinating woman to life. The students are always so curious, and you can tell that they are excited to have this experience because it's unlike anything that's been available to them in a social studies class. They get to experience Mrs. Low's personality and listen to the stories they won't find in their textbook. It makes history human.
"As an educator, being able to bring history alive in my classroom is my biggest goal. The Digital Webcast which the Northeast Georgia History Center provides is an amazing tool which allows students to be engaged and witness history in front of them. I cannot recommend this service enough and will be utilizing it in future classes."
Kellie Patterson, Educator at Villa Rica High School
This week students of Myers Elementary School met Martin Luther King Jr. They listened to his 1963 "I Have a Dream" speech from the March on Washington and were encouraged to applaud when they were moved by what he said (and they took full advantage of this!) This same week students met the explorers Lewis & Clark. Our next Webcasts will have Abraham Lincoln, Juliette Gordon Low, and a special Webcast Lesson on Mississippian Native American cultures.
All of our Digital Programs are free to Georgia educators thanks to Mike and Lynn Cottrell who saw the potential for this program and provided the funding to make it happen.
If you know an educator, help us spread the word! Scheduling a program is easy. Just email our Director of Education, Ken Johnston, at email@example.com subject "Digital Program."
Director of Media & Communications
Atlanta-based actor Mustapha Slack portrays Martin Luther King Jr. in our Digital Studio
Behind the scenes of our Lewis & Clark Webcast