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Incredible student projects that perfectly explain what a "museum magnet school" is really all about

Robert Churchwell Museum Magnet Elementary and John Early Museum Magnet Middle are gaining attention state-wide! Both of the museum magnet schools received Awards of Excellence during the recent Tennessee Association of Museums (TAM) conference in Jackson, TN. Robert Churchwell Museum Magnet Elementary received its Award of Excellence for its temporary exhibit, Robert Churchwell: The Jackie Robinson of Journalism. This project was organized in cooperation with Robert Churchwell’s family, the Tennessee State Museum, and the Nashville Room at the Downtown Public Library. The exhibit consisted of such artifacts as family photographs, eyeglasses, typewriter, and awards on loan from the Churchwell family. The State Museum lent items including a painting of Churchwell’s hometown of Clifton, TN, a Nashville Banner newspaper bag and lunch counter stools from the sit-ins that took place in downtown stores during the Civil Rights Movement. Photographs from the Nashville Banner collection housed at the Downtown Public Library also added to the project.

The exhibit opened on September 9, which was Robert Churchwell’s birthday. Students, staff, and community members celebrated Mr. Churchwell’s legacy with a public program, tour, and reception. In addition, students interacted with members of Churchwell’s family during the exhibit grand opening and during a special launch of a children’s book, Robert Churchwell: Writing News, Making History: A Savannah Green Story, which was written by family member, Gloria Respress-Churchwell, and illustrated by local artist, Michael McBride.

Students and community members not only learned about the legacy of the school’s namesake, they also learned the valuable role objects and oral history play in shaping and telling one’s story. Students continue to learn these lessons on a daily basis as they created their own exhibits related to classroom instruction.

John Early Museum Magnet Middle Prep received its Award of Excellence for its year-long Project-based Learning (PBL) partnership with the Croft House at the Nashville Zoo. The project, which centered on the slave cemetery on the zoo property, allowed 7th graders to conduct in-depth inquiry across the curriculum. Students conducted primary source research, looked at cultural burial customs from around the world, conducted DNA analysis and explored the probability of genetic dissemination from generation to generation. The next step is for the students to give the "Unknown 20" buried in the cemetery a voice and share their stories through the incorporation of the performing arts (a play written, directed, and performed by 7th grade students).

The partnership consisted of quarterly entry events including a tour of the Croft House, a presentation of archaeological investigations conducted by Dr. Shannon Hodge of MTSU who worked on the cemetery project at the Zoo, and a visit to an actual archaeological dig. Additional partnership components included multiple planning meetings with teachers, interactive tables during Museum Exhibit Nights at the school,and student interaction with and presentations to Croft House staff.

Students and staff at both museum schools have worked very hard this school year and take pride in their accomplishments. Be sure to check out their websites for more information about upcoming museum programs, exhibits and community presentations.

Robert Churchwell Museum Magnet Middle School

John Early Museum Magnet Middle School

Created in 1960 , TAM “fosters communication and cooperation between museums, cultural societies, and other members on matters of common interest to all. The organization’s goal is to inform the public on the importance of understanding and preserving Tennessee's cultural, historical, and scientific heritage,” according to their website. Over 150 museum professionals from across the state acknowledged the work and dedication of the two museum schools.