Keizer elementary gets into character for Black History Month 

Fourth grade Keizer Elementary bilingual teacher Danielle Rabenberg standing at the entrance of the student-made museum 

Black History Month is a time when we as a nation come together to acknowledge and appreciate Black accomplishment but at Keizer Elementary, the students don’t just learn the history, they live it. 

In an attempt to bring more awareness about Black history, fourth grade teacher Danielle Rabenberg, a 25-year language teacher, and her bilingual class created a museum for families and students to go and learn more about historical Black figures. 

Students spent more than two weeks, sacrificing precious lunch, recess and home time to not only create reports about historical Black figures, but also dressed as them, imitating the kiosk-like statues museums sometimes have. 

Students cleverly created “buttons” for attendees to push which would spur students into giving a rehearsed explanation about who they were as well as why they are important. 

The Black figures represented were: Michael Jordan, Ruby Bridges, Ray Charles, Louis Armstrong, George Washington Carver, Wilt Chamberlain, Maya Angelou, Muhammed Ali, Althea Gibson and Frederick Douglas.

Rabenberg described wanting to highlight other historical figures in order to give a fuller picture about Black accomplishments to both the students and those who came to see the museum. 

She described how children knew about certain figures, such as Martin Luther King Jr., but learned more about otherss, such as Georgia Gilmore who helped support and organize the Montgomery, Ala. bus boycott in the 1950s. 

After learning about Gilmore, Rabenberg described how her students were interested in her story and wanted to learn about more unsung heroes. 

When asked why host an event such as this, Rabenberg responded that “It’s about my kids learning to be accepting of everyone. I want my kids to grow up loving and respecting others.” 

Rabenberg spoke about how when children learn about other cultures, such as the people, traditions or food, they are able to connect with that culture in more ways and learn more about themselves and others in the process. 

This is not the only project her class has been working on, as Rabenberg noted the class has also been involved in a pen pal program with students from Chemawa Indian School. 

When asked about her goal for this project, Rabenberg thoughtfully stated, “I’m trying to go above and beyond the curriculum and expose these kids to real-life, exciting experiences that hopefully will stay with them forever.” 

Contact Quinn Stoddard
[email protected] or 503-390-1051

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