Jim Wayne Miller, professor of English at Western Kentucky University, declared that school children in West Virginia have more exposure to other cultures than they do to their own. His concern was that, “Lack of knowledge about the area’s history helps perpetuate negative stereotypes about the region’s mountain people” (Associated Press, 1994). If the Mountain Culture, to which many of the students belong, is not reflected in the curriculum, their identity, voice, heritage, history, and arts are censored and the Mountain Cultural youth are rendered invisible in their own state. Results from a survey of three elementary schools located in three counties in West Virginia served as the impetus to develop and implement curricular changes to include Mountain Culture. In this paper, I describe a case study of one elementary school’s use of social reconstruction pedagogy. The project, “Telling Our Story,” was implemented in 1995 and 1996 at a rural school in a small West Virginia strip mining community. My husband, David, and I served as Mountain Cultural artists in residence. My role in this project was a participant-observer. My husband and I are from the Mountain Culture and learned our art forms from our elders in the home and/ or community. The project utilized issues of the community, Mountain Cultural arts, and labor history.
© The Author