YOU ARE HERE Curriculum
Mandy D. Brumley, Editor
Kathryn J. Shurden, Author
Growing up in Seminole County, I heard the stories of every township and community in the area. My granddad told me about the oil boom that came with the Betsy Foster #1 oil well and the “camps” that sprang up in the oil fields. My dad talked about growing sorghum cane and making cane syrup in the fall to sell to the folks in town. Grandma told me about the years that her mother worked as a railroad agent and how the railroad had sent great-grandma to Holdenville during the labor strikes in the coal mining areas of Southeast Oklahoma. These were the stories learned from my elders, and I thought everyone knew the events that shaped their communities and how they affect who we are today. Then I moved.
The map on the wall in a downtown office showed a labyrinth of tunnels under the streets of Henryetta. “What are those?” I asked. “Coal mines,” was the short answer. The long answer has been a research project of nearly two decades to understand how the coal attracted railroads, immigrants, labor unions, and land speculators to Indian Territory. Even people who grew up here could not answer my questions: “Why were the coal mines here so dangerous?” “How did Nichols Park get its name?” “Was the park built by the WPA?” With the help of a particularly sharp librarian, we found answers and even got Nichols Park (which was built by the CCC) listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
So, I set out to write a history summary for Henryetta Schools, only to find that great resources were already available! Then the task became one to create materials to lead students to existing resources. We needed curriculum materials that were easy for teachers to use and easy to integrate into existing courses. Working with my daughter, Mandy Brumley, we developed a curriculum package for teaching local history in Okmulgee County. Soon, other schools in other areas were asking us to research and create curriculum for them. Our materials have been adopted from Eufaula to Alva, from Broken Arrow to Tuttle, and by many other schools statewide. With the publication of Every Place Has a Story, we have developed a universal guide that can be used for teaching local history anywhere in Oklahoma.
Experts say that we have created “process-driven, differentiated curriculum.” We know that teachers, students, and administrators love the material because it allows them to connect their learning experiences to the community.
My experiences in broadcast journalism and teaching at career techs and at Oklahoma State University-Okmulgee, as well as my Master’s Degree in Education were a great foundation for building this curriculum. Mandy’s experience in print and broadcast media and her Bachelor’s in Communications prepared her to provide the critical technical support and editing. Together, we are students of Oklahoma history with a passion to help all Oklahoma school children learn their own part of the story.
- Kathryn J. Shurden