WILMINGTON — Students at St. Elizabeth School can take advantage of technology they carry with them every day to learn about noteworthy local and national people of color. The school’s periodic table of Black history includes 137 people, each with a story to tell.
Theology teacher Mark Winterbottom got the idea from Teachers Pay Teachers, an educational website where educators share and sell ideas to each other. He worked on the project during snow days. Each of the figures on the table are identified by initials, just like the periodic table of the elements, but also with a QR code that students can scan with their phones or tablets that takes them to more information about that person.
The table gives students a “way of learning about incredible figures from all areas of academic discipline who just so happen to be people of color,” Winterbottom said.
“We mixed it with our own history here, our local history, as well as adding more figures that are really groundbreakers. That really became the impetus for us to allow our young people to not only see themselves and also the potential they have, but also in many ways to amplify their own voices.”
Winterbottom said the table allows St. Elizabeth students to be able to see themselves being able to accomplish anything they set out to do. The table includes professions from science, technology, engineering and mathematics; leadership roles; arts and entertainment; politics; and more.
The table Winterbottom purchased from Teachers Pay Teachers included 100 people. St. Elizabeth added quite a bit to that, including graduate Sherrie Dorsey Walker, a state representative.
“We took the basic format that we got … and added 37 people to it to really diversify quite a bit and add in different fields as well,” he said.
Upper School principal Terre Taylor said St. Elizabeth didn’t want to do the stereotypical Black History Month celebration of two or three people. They wanted to go more in-depth. The project has gotten support from the student body.
“I think they reacted to the periodic table the way they would have reacted to anything else that we’re promoting at this time. It’s what we’re celebrating and focusing on this month,” she said.
While the table features people of color, Winterbottom said it’s an educational tool above all else.
“I think the periodic table gave students an opportunity to learn and be exactly what they are – students. They’re absorbing and learning so much more about different people,” he said.
The table is likely to remain going forward, and Winterbottom said additions are likely.