By Terry D. Wright
For the Daily Call
PIQUA — During the second day of The Amazing Race Piqua new teachers were introduced to the history, businesses and social side of Piqua.
“This is day two of new staff orientation,” said David A. Larson, assistant superintendent of Piqua City Schools. “As part of our orientation of professional development for becoming teachers in Piqua City School’s we see this event as a great opportunity for our town and Miami County. We will be going into town today on a scavenger hunt; helping teachers learn about our community and important components of the city.”
Twenty-three new Piqua teachers assembled at the Johnston Farm and Indian Agency, Piqua, with Larson, where Andy Hite, site manager at the farm, as well as Piqua School Board member, explained the early pioneer, canal and Indian history of the area. The tour included a trip and description of the Col. John Johnston farm house. The teachers’ proved a quiet, interested and intent audience. Some educators even took notes during the one and a half hour long morning session. Hite explained to the new Piqua teachers how the staff and volunteers at the farm constantly related their information, history and science discussions with students at the farm while keeping Piqua’s learning curriculum in mind.
“On the native side of the museum we explain how it affects the community and local students,” said Hite as he spoke about the relationship between local Indian history and its relevance to today’s local society. Hite took the teachers through the farm’s new Educational Center, built last winter and connected to the Indian Museum. The newly constructed large room is used as a meeting place, part of the museum and banquet hall for the popular Evening on the Canal programs offered regularly at the farm. Additionally, the windows of the spaciously added location overlooks the serenity of the original part of the Miami and Erie Canal where you can still see the General Harrison canal boat utilizing the same towpath as in 1842 while propelling visitors over the quiet waters. The Great Blue Heron, Canadian geese and assorted wildlife you see on your leisurely boat journey are added bonuses.
Steve Stamper said he could relate directly to Hite’s information. Stamper will be teaching a new satellite course at the Piqua Junior High School this year. A satellite course is a class that is initiated by the Upper Valley Career Center with the specialist teacher being installed from that career center into the Piqua Schools. Stamper’s specialty program is entitled: Exploring Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Careers. Stamper said that Hite’s words were especially effective for him because he teaches his students about technology and questions them concerning particular periods of time. Stamper said he asks students how problems would have been solved back then using technology that was available.
“This is an excellent program today and I love to know and find out about the history of Ohio and relate it to what I am teaching,” Stamper said. Many great examples of technology and math can be learned by studying Ohio’s history, said Stamper. Such learning will start interesting conversations and produce beneficial learning experiences, noted Stamper.
New teacher Kevin Grieshop will teach math at Piqua High School and is originally from the Versailles area. Grieshop said that although he has taught in Dayton he is very interested in the Piqua’s regional history. “Unfortunately, of lot of students don’t know about the local history and I can share what we’ve learned today,” Grieshop said.
“I think this is great day today,” said new Piqua teacher April Taylor who will soon have the duties of a 3rd grade classroom in High Street School. Although not originally from Piqua, Taylor said that she was appreciative of learning all of the interesting history of the area and what the Johnston Farm and Indian Agency had to offer the region.
Hite informed the teachers that the Johnston Farm and Indian Agency is an economic engine for the community where families can have a good time and leave with a sense of our local history and heritage. He invited the teachers back with their family and friends and the hope that they would become involved with the enthusiastic farm’s staff and volunteers, “who love to share their story with people,” added Hite.
The first day of school for Piqua students will be Monday, Aug. 18.