MISSION—Mathew Adams, social studies teacher at K. White Jr. High School, toured his classroom at the end of the day last Friday with a hat, wool coat, pocket watch, a canteen and satchel added to his everyday wardrobe.
Unusual accessories for a person living in 2013. Adams, a re-enactor of historical events, believes in teaching visually – among other educational strategies. He has spent 13 years participating in re-enactments of wars, and now, he combines his hobby with his passion for history.
Adams explained he starts his six-week terms with the introduction of Native American tribes and moves his way through to the Texas Revolution and the Civil War, touching on other events between these important moments in history.
With each topic, Adams tries to pair a matching costume with the time period as he hopes to transport his students back in time.
“I try to give them a little understanding… to get them interested,” Adams said. “I talk about different things we come across in every day life, and how they contrast with each era.”
Adams also likes to share his family’s history with his pupils. His grandfather was the architect given the commission by the City of San Antonio to create The Alamo Cenotaph. The architect selected a sculptor to create the structure, but he could only work from live models.
When the sculptor constructed the cenotaph in 1936, which still sits in front of The Alamo today, he used Adams’ father as a model. So a replica of Adams’ father is sculpted into the memorial.
“Also, during the Civil War my great, great grandfather, Thomas Jefferson Adams, captured a wagon full of confederate rifles on its way south,” Adams said.
Adams said his great, great grandfather kept a musket as a trophy. The musket has since been passed down to him in part with his duties as family historian. The unloaded musket sits in his classroom, where he hopes students can see history is real and not something just out of a book.
The social studies teacher said he tries to include learning tools that will reach all learners – from English Language learners and Special Education to Gifted and Talented.
“One thing, every action affects others. Something insignificant can influence mountains,” Adams said. “I truly believe that. I love history, and I enjoy teaching.”
“Just to give a student that “wow” moment…that’s better than any paycheck.”
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