Today, we meet Reid Daniels, teacher at Soddy Daisy High School in Soddy Daisy, TN. He plans to travel more than 5,500 miles across the United States to help students understand the structure of the New Deal and the continuing impact of the government’s intervention on behalf of the people.
On Why He Designed This Fellowship
The students I teach represent a wide range of socio-economic backgrounds, many of whom rarely even leave the county. Their ability to conceptualize the vastness of our country, and our country’s resources is very limited, making it difficult to grasp the scope and initiatives involved in the New Deal.
My students also demonstrate a great interest in the natural world around them. They are avid fishermen, hunters, hikers, boaters, photographers, and rock climbers. Academically, they have a great deal of interest in the sciences, construction, and art. All of these interests can be exemplified within the New Deal projects that I will be visiting on my fellowship.
Another tangential goal will be to show the students that during one of the worst times of economic and social struggle in the US, the country was able to construct a network of parks that is truly unique in the world. This kind of unity is refreshing to think about especially in these seemingly divided times. I hope to demonstrate this to my students to give them hope about the US for the future.
The two key questions I will seek to answer through this fellowship and the student involvement afterwards are:
- To what lengths were Americans willing to go in order to earn a living? And, what were the immediate impacts of the New Deal, and,
- What are the long term consequences and benefits of the New Deal projects?
On His Itinerary
Over the course of 22 days and 11 states, I will pull my camper in order to give myself the best opportunity to experience the environment that the Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC) and Works Progress Administration (WPA) workers were living and working in. Destinations include:
- the St. Louis Arch
- Custer State Park and the dams built by the CCC
- Badlands National Park and the infrastructure built by the Works Progress Administration
- Wind Cave National Park‘s reservoir, water system and concrete stairs in the cave
- Mount Rushmore
- Devil’s Tower and the museum built by the CCC
- Grand Teton and the library built by WPA
- Yellowstone National Park and the terrain tended by the “Tree Army” of the CCC
- Theodore Roosevelt National Park, and,
- Fort Snelling
On Plans for His Students
My students will create their own virtual trips to our national parks and monuments developed during the New Deal. To demonstrate the outcome of their projects, my students will create a digital video that will walk me through the trips that they have planned, and the locations that they will be visiting. This project will give my students, who have such limited experience with travel outside of the immediate area, the tools they need to create real trips instead of virtual trips.
The daily (short term) plans for student learning will include direct instruction on this project to include the documentation, visual as well as tangible (maps, books, additional artifacts I will find, etc.) of the locations I visit. I will largely focus this instruction on the living and working conditions at these locations for the Works Progress Administration and Civilian Conservation Corp workers. The long term unit plan will demonstrate my fellowship takeaways, starting with President Hoover’s decision to not intervene, governmentally, in the Great Depression and will conclude with the start of World War II.
Lastly, I will set up an interactive booth at the local history day in which I can share my experiences with the community at large. I will be available to answer questions about my travels as well as share the stories that I have learned from the experts at the locations I have visited. I will work with my students to host a clean up day at a local New Deal park in order to give them a feel for what it is like to address global needs.
My own family was greatly affected by the New Deal, as my family’s land was taken over in eminent domain in one of the first projects developed. The New Deal has been a constant topic in my family for the last 80 years. Even in what my family had to give up, they were able to appreciate the transformation within their community due to these projects. The sacrifices made by the families whose homes were taken over, and whose young men were sent off to work on these projects (and eventually off to World War II) are a significant part of the fabric of our nation. They tell of our national character in a way nothing else can. My intent with the fellowship is to add the stories of other families to my own to enhance my understanding of the magnitude of the New Deal. That will, of course translate into an enhancement of how I teach this time period in American History.