Creating A Unique Field Trip About the Jonestown Neighborhood

Posted on May 16, 2019 by

This post was written by JMM School Program Coordinator Paige Woodhouse. To read more posts from Paige, click here!


Back in March, the JMM received an email from the Middle School Principal, Mr. Golon, at The Friends School of Baltimore. This email led to an exciting opportunity for the education team at the Jewish Museum of Maryland. Mr. Golon was in the midst of planning a new experience for his 8th-grade students. Planning a 2-day “deep dive” field trip into the students’ home city, he was looking for experiences that would encourage his students to think about the different narratives represented in Baltimore. Requests like these energize our education team. We love the opportunity to tailor a program to the learning goals of educators and create meaningful experiences for students.

This request gave us an opportunity to explore our Voices of Lombard Street exhibit programs in a new light. Our Voices of Lombard Street exhibit is an immersive experience that acts as a platform for students to be introduced to the immigrant community living in the neighborhood around the Museum known as Jonestown. Through a melody of immigrant’s voices, students explore what life was like in tenement houses, the working conditions in sweatshops, and the hustle and bustle of Lombard Street. This scavenger hunt activity focuses on the first half of the exhibit, from the 1880s to about the 1920s.

The Friends School of Baltimore students’ visit empowered JMM staff to explore a new perspective of the Voices of Lombard Street exhibit, thinking about the Jonestown neighborhood.

For the Friends School of Baltimore’s visit, we wanted to explore the relationship of the different cultural and religious communities that made this neighborhood home and what students could learn from the neighborhood’s history. Mr. Golon wanted students to consider two questions:

>What do the historical narratives of African-American and immigrant communities in Baltimore teach us about where our city has been and where it is going?

>What are some of the strengths, challenges, and opportunities in the Jonestown neighborhood of our city?

We developed a scavenger hunt centered around these questions. One that would encourage students to consider the different nationalities of immigrants living in Jonestown, the relationship between African American community members and their neighbors, and why the Jonestown neighborhood needed multiple houses of worship. We also wanted students to look at how the neighborhood changed beginning in the 1930s. Using the quotes from residents present in the exhibit, students would consider how the community felt both when the Flag House Courts opened in 1955 and when it was eventually demolished; how the riots in 1968 impacted Lombard Street; and how the community worked (and is working) together to revitalize the area.

Students worked in pairs to complete the new version of our Voices of Lombard Street scavenger hunt that explored the changing history of the Jonestown neighborhood.

We wanted students to step out of the exhibit and into the neighborhood itself. While on a neighborhood walking tour, students would learn about the history of Jonestown. Walking down Lloyd Street, students would be able to compare the past and present. Peering down East Baltimore, students would see the McKim Center, the original Friends Meeting House, the Phoenix Shot Tower, and both the existing and future Helping Up Mission buildings. Stopping in front of the Lloyd Street Synagogue and B’nai Israel Synagogue students would learn about the Jewish community that made Jonestown home. They would also see the vacant lot where Smelkinson’s, a kosher dairy, resided before it was burned down during the riots of 1968.

The walking tour around the neighborhood encouraged students to see how the urban landscape of Jonestown has evolved and is still evolving.

The neighborhood walking tour would encourage students to gain a better sense of place and make connections between the Voices of Lombard Street exhibit and the community that exists today. Students were asked to think about the opportunities that exist for Jonestown and what role the residents and businesses can play.

Students also shared their learning with each other and considered challenges, strengths, and opportunities found in Jonestown.

Mr. Golon first reached out to the JMM in March and in May we were delighted to be one part of their two-day field trip. This JMM experience, designed specifically with a “deep dive” into the Baltimore community in mind, culminated in asking the students, “What do you think it means to be part of a neighborhood?” Here is a selection of their responses:

>To be connected, and that each neighborhood has its own culture

>It means to be part of a community, to be together as a whole, working through things.

>Be a good citizen, speak up

>Forms community, everyone can feel safe, communicate

>A place where people live and houses stories

>It brings people together and gives them a sense of home

>It means to be a family and to live in history

>Help others, to contribute

>Open, inclusive and committed, sharing

>Unity

>Change

The Friends School of Baltimore was piloting a new year-end field trip for their 8th-grade students, and that opportunity gave the education team at the JMM to the ability to try something new as well. Thank you to Mr. Golon and The Friends School of Baltimore for letting us support your students as they explored their city and the communities, both past and present, that make it unique.

8th grade students exploring Baltimore in May. 

Their visit also included: Homewood Friends Meeting House, Blue Water Baltimore, Friends of Patterson Park, Patterson Lanes, Baltimore City Council, Baltimore Inspector General’s Office, Mayor’s Office of Sustainable Solutions, The Reginald F. Lewis Museum, and McKim Center. We were proud to be a part of this group of organizations supporting their learning.


Have an idea for a field trip? We are happy to tailor our programs to your classroom learning. Please contact Paige Woodhouse, School Program Coordinator, at pwoodhouse@jewishmusuemmd.org or 443-873-5167 to start building a great experience for your students.


 

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