“We are Montevallo!” is a phrase that began just a little over a year ago and has quickly become a statement of pride, passion, and confidence for many at Montevallo High School and throughout the Montevallo community. Whether you see it hanging in the front vista view at MHS, on T-shirts worn by students, staff, and parents from all Montevallo schools, or on the hundreds of orange and blue arm bands being worn by Montevallo citizens; the term “We are Montevallo!” is growing quickly throughout the community.
American Village founder Tom Walker recently used the “We are Montevallo!” phrase while addressing guests and honorees at the Mayor’s Breakfast on October 10. Walker was praising an idea that an 11th grade team of teachers at the high school created to inspire passion in the community and enhance learning through real-world connection with their students.
The teacher’s project was to create a “We are Montevallo!” week filled with learning activities to places like the University of Montevallo’s science labs and observatory, Ebenezer’s Swamp, and the American Village. During their visit to the University of Montevallo, MHS students also had the opportunity to experience learning activities led by professors in college labs and classrooms. This opportunity provided a preview to college life and learning, which helped to sharpen their focus about plans after high school and eased their tensions about college-level learning and college lifestyle in general.
Guest experts were also invited to speak to juniors about various topics, including history and writing. The speakers included Walker, from the American Village, along with Pulitzer Prize nominee and writer Dr. William Cobb. Both speakers provided a meaningful and interesting message for the 11th graders, but more importantly they provided inspiration by helping the students realize that anything is possible through hard work, preparation, and a strong vision.
“The ‘We Are Montevallo’ project brought a stronger connection to both learning and community,” said Principal Wesley Hester. “Our junior class benefited greatly from this project in a number of ways. MHS is fortunate to have the University of Montevallo next door to provide the support they do for our students’ learning and preparation for success. We are also blessed to have the American Village and Ebenezer’s Swamp, which offer the ultimate hands-on learning experiences in history and science respectively.”
“Along with the valuable learning experiences, the project brought wonderful attention to and appreciation for our community,” Hester continued. “It is my belief that through this project, our students have developed a stronger understanding and passion for their community, and they will continue to proudly say “We Are Montevallo!”
Hester said the project began as a cross-curricular initiative intended to provide learning experiences that integrated math, science, history, and language arts, with the addition of real-world connection outside the traditional setting of a high school classroom. He said as the team continued to plan the project, they quickly realized it was much more than a typical set of learning activities or an integrated unit. The project provided a dynamic way to learn, and it was an opportunity to develop a sense of pride in their community.
“The project allowed students a chance to truly appreciate the wonderful things that their community can offer,” Hester said. “The 11th grade team broke through classroom walls and provided opportunities for their students to learn, while connecting with their community. Jennifer Turner, Terri Hipps, Christeen Muthiah-David, Kindall Jones, and Brent McCaleb created a phenomenal project from which other teachers, departments, and teams can follow and build upon. These teachers have taken cross-curricular, real-world learning to a higher level, and their students have benefited in many ways.”