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‘Freedman, Surfman, Heroes’ program going virtual

The Pea Island Preservation Society, Inc. was recently awarded a grant from the Outer Banks Community Foundation to develop a distance learning program for the society’s “Freedmen, Surfmen, Heroes” education initiative.

This education initiative was started in 2018, when the PIPSI was awarded a community enrichment grant by the OBCF to help bring increased awareness to the history of Keeper Richard Etheridge and the Pea Island Lifesavers.

As described in their grant application, PIPSI aspires to make the history of Etheridge and the lifesavers “broadly known, locally and beyond.” The story of Etheridge encompasses a portion of the history of the Outer Banks and shares important lessons about “freedom, equal opportunity, overcoming challenges and collaboration and fair treatment for all.”

Up until now, the program has been aimed towards students in the fourth-grade level. With the OBCF grant, PIPSI can help third-grade teachers implement the story into their curriculum, which includes local history. The added distance learning component provides this program with a new way to reach students, even outside the Dare County area.

“This gives us opportunity to not only bring the story to the Dare County schools, but schools all over the country. Hopefully, that’ll expand our story and give us more feedback,” said Darrell Collins, president of PIPSI.

Another component of the overall objective to this initiative is to offer cross-curricular education, using the history of Etheridge and the Pea Island Station as a “foundation.”

“We want to create material that educators can use throughout the school year, connecting our historical material to lessons about other topics such as science, geography, reading, and math,” stated the grant application.

“This [grant] allows us to continue with this important education initiative in a unique and important way, and a way that we can still reach a wide audience and, hopefully, wider audience,” said Joan Collins, director of PIPSI.

“We wanted to be able to teach kids this history,” she added. “By teaching it to kids, it allows us a way to broaden it to everyone else. We feel really feel good about it.”

The program will fall in line with Dare County Schools’ platform and will be presented using Google Suites through Google Classroom. PIPSI has made arrangements to pilot the distance learning program during the next school year to a third-grade class at Kitty Hawk Elementary School.

“Because this area lacks racial diversity, it’s particularly important to bring this history to light to make people know of the experiences that people that were different than them encountered,” Joan shared.

Six modules will be initiated and delivered through educational materials that will be provided by PIPSI in collaboration with Laurie Bryant, award-winning children’s writer and educator. PIPSI also shared plans to contract a local videographer to create videos/video snippets to further teach the history of Etheridge and the Pea Island lifesavers.

“I am excited to be a part of this history,” shared Coquetta Brooks, secretary of PIPSI. “Another element and fabric that is untold that needs to have the spotlight on it, just like all the other historians that we have read and learned about.” Joan added, “We are just really excited and thankful to the Community Foundation.”

The Cookhouse Museum, operated by PIPSI, is now open to the public from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays for anyone wishing to learn more about the lifesaving station and the history of Etheridge.

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