For many years, Sapulpa Public Schools teacher Jessica Nicholson attended Revolutionary Days on the Hill each February at a Tulsa church. The stimulating day of educational activities was a creative way for elementary students to learn about colonial times.
“After last year’s event, I wanted to immerse myself in and learn more about this critical time in history,” Nicholson says. “I taught math for six years but was so inspired by Revolutionary Days, I became a social studies teacher.”
Nicholson credits two passionate Tulsa public schoolteachers, Dessa Edwards and Beth Howard, for pioneering the original event. After meeting in Virginia at the Colonial Williamsburg Teacher Institute in 2008, they became colleagues with a common cause: to educate the students of Oklahoma about the history of America.
Thanks to that dynamic duo, thousands of elementary students in northeast Oklahoma have benefitted over the past 10 years. However, Edwards is retiring and Howard has moved to Edison High School to teach visual arts.
“I’m thrilled to pick up the torch,” Nicholson says. On Feb. 6, she will host “Road to the Revolution: Colonial Times 2.0” at a Sapulpa church. She expects 400 Sapulpa students to participate this year, though in the future she plans to invite other Tulsa-area school districts.
Mount Vernon Estates and Gardens provides in-person speakers, curriculum and props for the day’s events. Attendees meet actors who portray historical characters, including Dr. James Craik, George Washington’s personal doctor, and Benjamin Franklin. This year Colonial Williamsburg is sending 11 speakers at no cost to the district.
“As the Revolutionary day comes to life, I love watching the children lean in,” Nicholson says. “We end by saying a rousing Bill of Rights rap.”