Principal's Principles

Principal's Principles
Posted on 06/07/2020
BC Crest

I feel compelled to share with you some thoughts about how some of what is currently happening in the world intersects with our Battle Creek Middle School community. More than at any time since our stay-at-home orders were in effect, I hate that we haven’t been in school for the past week because I so very much wish we could’ve had meaningful conversations with students about some of the issues being raised.

Our Tennessee middle school standards call on us to help students develop historical awareness by “perceiving and presenting past events and issues as they might have been experienced by the people of the time, with historical empathy” and also identify “patterns of continuity and change over time, making connections to the present.” During the 8th grade, in particular, we teach students to “identify the conditions of enslavement, and explain how slaves adapted to and resisted bondage;” explain different arguments presented by various pre-Civil War leaders on slavery; “explain the restrictions placed on the rights and opportunities of freedmen;” and even “trace the rise of the Ku Klux Klan and vigilante justice in the South and in Tennessee.”

The reason we cover that material is not only so we can understand the mistakes and injustices of the past but also so that in the present, we can notice them, name them, and do something about them. Rather than sanitizing our history, we can learn from our mistakes and change our futures. In English Language Arts classes, we draw on a diverse set of texts in terms of not only complexity, genre, length, and style, but also of authors, cultures, and backgrounds. The more we are exposed to one another’s viewpoints, the more we can understand and empathize with others. When students are able to read about real issues, through both history and literature, especially when they can also discuss them in a disciplined way, they can wrestle with tough issues and examine their own assumptions—leading them to make better choices in their personal and civic lives.

In the wake of the senseless deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner, and other black Americans, millions have risen up to express righteous anger with systems and biases that continue to perpetuate injustices. My heart hurts for our students of color for whom racism is not a distant memory but rather a daily reality.

Simultaneously, countless law enforcement officials and national guard members struggle to balance citizens’ Constitutionally protected freedom of peaceful assembly with their duties to curb violence, looting, and vandalism. My heart also hurts for those officers who are doing their best to de-escalate violence and keep the peace.

I don’t know what all will happen throughout the country over coming months, but I promise that my staff and I will do everything we can to make Battle Creek Middle School a place of peace—not the kind of peace that is simply the absence of conflict but rather the kind of peace that comes from acknowledging injustices and doing something about them. We are committed to the social, emotional, and character growth of our students above all else—as, I believe, are you. If there is any way that we can be of help to you in this regard, please do not hesitate to reach out to us.

Thank you for the great privilege of getting to serve the Battle Creek Middle School community.

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Dr. Will Penner, Principal, Battle Creek Middle School3451 Mahlon Moore Road (121 Battle Creek Way) | Spring Hill, TN 37174
Phone: 931.487.1310, ext. 5210 | Fax: 931.840.4410
Email: wpenner@mauryk12.org | Twitter/Facebook: @BCMSBears
Web: https://battlecreekmiddlemauryk12.ss9.sharpschool.com

Middle School Social Studies Standards include developing students’ historical awareness by: (SSP.05)

  • Recognizing how and why historical accounts change over time
  • Perceiving and presenting past events and issues as they might have been experienced by the people of the time, with historical empathy rather than present-mindedness
  • Evaluating how unique circumstances of time and place create context and contribute to action and reaction
  • Identifying patterns of continuity and change over time, making connections to the present

 Additional 8th Grade Social Studies Standards include students being able to:

  • Describe the development of the agrarian economy in the South, the locations of the cotton-producing states, the significance of cotton and the cotton gin, and the founding of Memphis as a center for cotton and the slave trade. (8.34)
  • Analyze the characteristics of Southern society and its influence on the social and political conditions prior to the Civil War. (8.35)
  • Identify the conditions of enslavement, and explain how slaves adapted to and resisted bondage in their daily lives, including Nat Turner's revolt. (8.36)
  • Explain the reasons for and the impact of the Compromise of 1850 (including Henry Clay’s role as “The Great Compromiser”) and the Fugitive Slave Act (including Harriet Beecher Stowe’s influence with Uncle Tom’s Cabin). (8.56)
  • Explain the arguments presented by Stephen Douglas and Abraham Lincoln on slavery in the Illinois Senate race debates of 1858. (8.60)
  • Identify the significance of the Tennessee Constitution of 1870, including the right of all men to vote and the establishment of a poll tax. (8.70)
  • Explain the restrictions placed on the rights and opportunities of freedmen, including: racial segregation, black codes, and the efforts of the Freedmen's Bureau to address the problems confronting newly freed slaves. (8.72)
  • Trace the rise of the Ku Klux Klan and vigilante justice in the South and in Tennessee, including the role of Governor William Brownlow. (8.73)