By Bill Guy
Potter Valley TA member Carrie Mayfield, Potter Valley Classified Employees Association President Duval “Sam” Phillips, and PVTA President Stephanie Bearden are using a CTA Institute for Teaching grant to work with students in the district’s Multicultural Club to enhance awareness of the area’s Pomo culture.
“Working with my colleagues, school maintenance employee Sam Phillips, art teacher Carrie Mayfield, and the students in our Potter Valley Multicultural Club has been the best thing I have experienced as a teacher in years,” says Potter Valley Teachers Association President Stephanie Bearden.
Relying primarily on funds from a CTA Institute for Teaching grant, Bearden, Phillips and Mayfield are engaging their rural Northern California students in a series of projects that focus on Native American culture, primarily the history and culture of the area’s Pomo people.
After researching with tribal officials and at area museums, art teacher Mayfield worked with club students and with Phillips, a member of the Pomo people and president of the Potter Valley Classified Employees Association, to create and mount a mural featuring intricate Pomo basket designs indigenous to the area. A large group of students from local schools, educators, community members and Pomo representatives participated in the November 2011 mural unveiling ceremony. “As a nonnative artist, the most important thing to me in creating the design was accuracy to the native culture,” says Mayfield. “The mural needed to be more than just a pretty picture on the wall in order to help educate our students about the deeper history of the area.”
Currently, Mayfield is working with other teachers at the school to develop curriculum to help students better understand the mural and other aspects of local Native American culture. “The mural is just the first step in a long journey this community must make to help recognize and honor the earliest inhabitants of our valley so that their descendants, including our students, may feel pride in their heritage, their culture and themselves,” says Mayfield.
“We are so appreciative of the Institute for Teaching grant,” says Bearden. “In addition to the mural, it has enabled us to fund field trips and other experiences for our students.”
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